Chief Meteorologist analyses predictions for Hurricane Season

This Saturday June 1st marks the start of  the Hurricane Season and today the relevant Ministry for Disaster Preparedness and National Emergency; NEMO hosted a press briefing in the City of Belmopan.  This afternoon’s briefing dealt with the upcoming hurricane season. Seated at the head table was Senator the Hon. Godwin Hulse, the National Emergency Coordinator (NEC) Mrs. Noreen Fairweather, Chief Meteorologist Mr. Dennis Gonguez and CEO Mrs. Candelaria Saldivar Morter. Gonguez gave the forecast for this year saying that it’s going to be an active one.

Dennis Gonguez – Chief Meteorologist:
vlcsnap-2013-05-30-20h10m59s164The forecast, as predicted by the more reputable forcast centers, predict an average season.  If you look at the graphic there, for the average period 1980 – 2010, we see that the average number of named storms was 12.  The average number of hurricanes was 9. And the average number of intense hurricanes, category 3, 4 or 5, typically in any period 1980 – 2010, would be three systems.   Our focus sources this year predict an above average season, with as much as 20 named systems, as predicted by the United States Weather Service, and as low as 14 by the Met Office in the United Kingdom.  Those forecasts are well above the normal average of the 1980 – 2010 period.
In terms of hurricanes with winds of 74 miles per hour or higher,  most of the forecasts indicate that approximately 9 systems will develop, and that is just about average for the same 1980 – 2010 period.  In terms of intense hurricanes, category three, four and five, with winds 111 miles per hour or higher,  the forecasts indicate that those systems will be just about average, with United States Weather Service predicting as much as 6 intense systems this year.

Why is there such a grim prediction for the next six months? Well according to Gonguez  climate conditions within the Atlantic Basin are just more favourable this year.

Dennis Gonguez – Chief Meteorologist:
vlcsnap-2013-05-30-20h09m39s123Presently there are no inhibiting factors.  Typical in a year the El Nino phenomenon, which is the abnormal warming of the Pacific Ocean, would have a suppressing effect on our Atlantic Hurricane Season. This year we don’t see any evolution of the El Niño phenomenon, therefore that inhibiting factor is not expected to materialize. 
In terms of sea-surface temperatures: sea-surface temperatures in the Atlantic Ocean are forecasts to be above normal, and we all know that typical cyclones get their energies from warm ocean surfaces.
Finally, we’re in a heightened state of activity for the Atlantic Basin. We are at that part of the cycle where there is a heightened level of activity in this Atlantic Basin.

Besides forecasting a heightened season and favourable conditions, Gonguez says that there’s an abundant source of energy available to Tropical Cyclones this year, he explains.

Dennis Gonguez – Chief Meteorologist:
In the main development area, just off the West coast of Africa, temperatures there are exceeding about 1.5 degrees Celsius above normal.  This one trend extends all the way into the Eastern Caribbean.  So an abundance source of energy is available. The key is the preparedness.  The seasonal outlooks do not tell where landfall will be, or the number of hits any particular location could experience.  Those seasonal outlooks also do not take into account the Tropical depressions which we know can be major rainmakers, potentially resulting in widespread flooding.
Finally, considering the seasonal outlook, it doesn’t matter whether or not it is an active season, we just need to remember it just takes one system to cause devastation.

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