NOAA predicts near-normal 2019 Atlantic hurricane season

El Nino and warmer-than-average Atlantic help shape this season’s intensity

From NOAA press release:

NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center is predicting that a near-normal Atlantic hurricane season is most likely this year. This outlook forecasts a 40% chance of a near-normal season, a 30% chance of an above-normal season and a 30% chance of a below-normal season. The hurricane season officially extends from June 1 to November 30.

For 2019, NOAA predicts a likely range of 9 to 15 named storms (winds of 39 mph or higher), of which 4 to 8 could become hurricanes (winds of 74 mph or higher), including 2 to 4 major hurricanes (category 3, 4 or 5; with winds of 111 mph or higher). NOAA provides these ranges with a 70% confidence. An average hurricane season produces 12 named storms, of which 6 become hurricanes, including 3 major hurricanes.

“With the 2019 hurricane season upon us, NOAA is leveraging cutting-edge tools to help secure Americans against the threat posed by hurricanes and tropical cyclones across both the Atlantic and Pacific,” said Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross. “Throughout hurricane season, dedicated NOAA staff will remain on alert for any danger to American lives and communities.”

This outlook reflects competing climate factors. The ongoing El Nino is expected to persist and suppress the intensity of the hurricane season. Countering El Nino is the expected combination of warmer-than-average sea-surface temperatures in the tropical Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean Sea, and an enhanced west African monsoon, both of which favor increased hurricane activity.

“New satellite data and other upgrades to products and services from NOAA enable a more Weather-Ready Nation by providing the public and decision makers with the information needed to take action before, during, and after a hurricane,” said Neil Jacobs, Ph.D., acting NOAA administrator.

The 2019 hurricane season marks the first time NOAA’s fleet of Earth-observing satellites includes three operational next-generation satellites. Unique and valuable data from these satellites feed the hurricane forecast models used by forecasters to help users make critical decisions days in advance.

NOAA’s National Weather Service is making a planned upgrade to its Global Forecast System (GFS) flagship weather model – often called the American model – early in the 2019 hurricane season. This marks the first major upgrade to the dynamical core of the model in almost 40 years and will improve tropical cyclone track and intensity forecasts.

“NOAA is driving towards a community-based development program for future weather and climate modeling to deliver the very best forecasts, by leveraging new investments in research and working with the weather enterprise,” added Jacobs.

NOAA’s National Hurricane Center and NWS office in San Juan will expand the coastal storm surge watches and warnings in 2019 to include Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. In addition, NHC will display excessive rainfall outlooks on its website, providing greater visibility of one of the most dangerous inland threats from hurricanes.

Also, this season, NOAA’s Hurricane Hunter aircraft will collect higher-resolution data from upgraded onboard radar systems. These enhanced observations will be transmitted in near-real time to hurricane specialists at NHC, the Central Pacific Hurricane Center and forecasters at NWS Weather Forecast Offices.

In addition to the Atlantic hurricane season outlook, NOAA also issued seasonal hurricane outlooks for the eastern and central Pacific basins. A 70% chance of an above-normal season is predicted for both the eastern and central Pacific regions. The eastern Pacific outlook calls for a 70% probability of 15 to 22 named storms, of which 8 to 13 are expected to become hurricanes, including 4 to 8 major hurricanes. The central Pacific outlook calls for a 70% probability of 5 to 8 tropical cyclones, which includes tropical depressions, tropical storms, and hurricanes.

NOAA’s outlook is for overall seasonal activity and is not a landfall forecast. Hurricane preparedness is critically important for the 2019 hurricane season, just as it is every year. Visit the National Hurricane Center’s website at throughout the season to stay current on any watches and warnings.

“Preparing ahead of a disaster is the responsibility of all levels of government, the private sector, and the public,” said Daniel Kaniewski, FEMA deputy administrator for resilience. “It only takes one event to devastate a community so now is the time to prepare. Do you have cash on hand? Do you have adequate insurance, including flood insurance? Does your family have communication and evacuation plans? Stay tuned to your local news and download the FEMA app to get alerts, and make sure you heed any warnings issued by local officials.”

NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center will update the 2019 Atlantic seasonal outlook in August just prior to the historical peak of the season.

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Bryan A
May 23, 2019 9:44 am

without a doubt one of the SAFEST predictions that could be made WTG NOAA

Reply to  Bryan A
May 23, 2019 4:37 pm

With climate emergencies being declared in many countries shouldn’t hurricane predictions be well above average or even record-setting?

Kerry Eubanks
May 23, 2019 9:52 am

Well, it’s pretty difficult to miss with a forecast like that.

Reply to  Kerry Eubanks
May 23, 2019 12:20 pm

Hurricane activity this year is expected to be near the expectation value ( aka average ) .

The average is called the expectation value since, if you do not have any idea how a system will behave the best bet is to suggest it will be near the average. ie in the absence of a better idea you assume that it is a random variable.

At least NOAA are now getting more honest about their level of understanding.

Reply to  Greg
May 23, 2019 1:59 pm

When I read meteorology I was taught to check how much better prognoses were than the expectation prognosis, because anyone can do that one without any prediction capability whatsoever:

“It will be the same weather tomorrow”

“It will be an average hurricane year”

Reply to  tty
May 23, 2019 2:59 pm

Bingo TTY!

I was hoping that Anthony would throw in the 10% chance line from the movie Naked Gun:

“Doctors say that Nordberg has a 50 – 50 chance of living, though there’s only a 10 percent chance of that.”

Richard Patton
Reply to  Kerry Eubanks
May 23, 2019 10:58 pm


Joel Snider
May 23, 2019 9:58 am

HAD to add that qualifier ‘near’ normal.

I’m sure all that human C02 put it over the hump, so it still qualifies as ‘climate disruption’ – or whatever the latest catch-phrase is.

Reply to  Joel Snider
May 23, 2019 12:16 pm

Hey, we used to have high years and low years , now all that is over any we have an unprecedented period of “near normal” weather.

“near normal” is the new normal. I guess we’ll just have to learn to live with it.

Joel Snider
Reply to  Greg
May 23, 2019 1:05 pm

‘Unprecedented near-normal’.

I’m going to right that one down.

May 23, 2019 9:58 am

I would like to see a comparison of NOAA predictions with actual for past years.

Reply to  TimD
May 23, 2019 10:50 am

You can see one I did half a dozen years ago in my comment below.

Mark Broderick
May 23, 2019 9:59 am

Wow, they are really going out on limb there…. / sarc

May 23, 2019 10:03 am

Joe Bastardi has said aliitle below avg. NOAA is always going to exaggerate tornados/hurricanes/heat-waves/droughts/floods/earthquakes/volcanoes/famine/extinctions/etc. IOW, they’re useless.

May 23, 2019 10:32 am

“NOAA predicts near-normal 2019 Atlantic hurricane season”
I sincerely hope they are correct, since some seven and half years ago I did the same, i.e. ‘predicted’ that the 2019 Accumulated cyclone energy (ACE) would be be just above normal

Reply to  vukcevic
May 23, 2019 12:39 pm

In case you might ask but how does that work?
The North Atlantic currents are essential components of the Meridional Overturning Circulation (MOC) that transports large amounts of heat from the tropics toward the Arctic at same time losing heat and moisture to the atmosphere. By the time the current reaches the North Atlantic and Arctic its water is saline and cold, it sinks to produce north Atlantic Deep water (NADW) current. It completes its circulation by flowing back toward the tropics or into other ocean basins at depth, and then subsequently upwelling through a variety of mechanisms and locations. The time scale of this overturning varies between 600 and 1000 years depending where partial upwelling takes place.
The heat being transferred from the ocean surface back into the atmosphere at high latitudes is as large as 50 -100W/m2 depending on the strength of the westerly cold winds blowing at high latitudes. By using the atmospheric pressure as a rough guide it is possible to estimate trend in the heat loss. More heath is taken out, faster and deeper is down-welling. It should be pointed out that the sinking current velocity has short term (in time and distance) vertical component directly proportional to its salinity but subsequently it has by far much longer term (in time and distance) horizontal component that is inversely proportional to the depth at which current flows. In another words colder and more saline water sinks faster and deeper, but then closer it is to the sea floor the lower is its onward velocity.
One part of the return current up-wells some 15 or so years later in the North Atlantic’s tropics along the west coast of North Africa, the area where the N. Atlantic hurricanes are initiated. Greater the temperature differential between the up-welling and the surface currents in the area more likely is that a hurricane will be spawned.
Consequently, the temperature and arrival time of the cold up-welling current reflects the heat lost in the down-welling process which, as mentioned above, is related to the wind intensity (or the atmospheric pressure) in the region to the south of the Denmark straits.
It follows that the atmospheric pressure anomaly in the far N. Atlantic can be used as a forward estimate (or a prediction of a reasonable probability) for the ACE (Accumulated Cyclone Energy) intensity as you can see in my link above. This to me (and hopefully to anyone else who might consider the above as credible) is known as ‘vukcevic hypothesis’ and therefore thank you for your attention.

May 23, 2019 10:40 am

Do American taxpayers pay for this worthless forecast?

Why ?

Tom in Florida
May 23, 2019 10:43 am

These predictions make no difference to individuals. It only takes one bad storm to hit you. I will deal with what comes on a day to day basis. So I go about my season prep the same as always. Be prepared for the worst, hope for the best.

Robert W Turner
May 23, 2019 10:44 am

Did they factor in their own eagerness to officially name any thundercloud that pops up? Andrea for example, would very likely not have ever been close to being named a decade ago.

May 23, 2019 11:08 am

LOL…they’re kidding right?

Yeah, I’d like to place one bet on horses 4 through 10…your tax dollars at work

May 23, 2019 11:17 am


How much are we paying these brainiacs?


Robert W Turner
Reply to  Bad Andrew
May 23, 2019 11:34 am
Bryan A
Reply to  Bad Andrew
May 23, 2019 12:09 pm

a guaranteed prediction that will be better than those of the MET

May 23, 2019 11:39 am

noaa predicted warmer than normal winter this year with continued drought in the west ; so there you go

Joel O'Bryan
May 23, 2019 12:05 pm

In the past, they didn’t name the storms until they made Tropical Storm strength >40 mph sustained winds, and had tropical storm characteristics of a warm core with and a general circulation center, even if it was somewhat disorganized.

The first named storm of 2019 is Andrea out in the Atlantic. The NHC was pretty quick to name this system.
“Andrea” even though it never got tropical storm status.

The NHC had the low pressure named as Andrea in their first Forecast Advisory on Monday May 20th. In that advisory they clearly state the sustained winds at “about 35 mph” yet they still named it.

“The cyclone is considered subtropical at this time because it is
interacting with an upper-level low pressure system to its west,
has a relatively large radius of maximum wind, and its overall
appearance in satellite images.”

The point is, with NOAA’s NHC clear effort to name any marginal low pressure out in the Atlantic for a “numbers game”, the total number of named storms is now completely meaningless.

R Moore
May 23, 2019 12:18 pm

What is correlation between just the El Niño score and hurricanes hitting continental USA?
Does not the wind aloft pattern that accompanies the El Niño suppress Atlantic hurricanes?

May 23, 2019 12:23 pm

If you go back and look at their historical predictions, their range for number of storms used to be half of what they do now. Today they say 9-15, but 10 years ago they would say something like 6-9

May 23, 2019 1:39 pm

“Stay tuned to your local news and download the FEMA app to get alerts”
But get it reverse engineered first to see if the permissions are the same as the actions.

May 23, 2019 2:19 pm

It’ll be easy to hit that target, they already use Andrea for a semi tropical storm which lasted 24 hours or less. Andrea was a terribly wasted storm name.

Reply to  rhs
May 23, 2019 5:39 pm

> “Andrea was a terribly wasted storm name.”

We find more and monitor more weather events more often. As a result the “season” should start earlier, the peak measured intensity should increase, the number of marginal depressions and storms achieve named status. Pre satellite era sailing ships disappeared with no known cause(s). Ever since cellphones and sat phones and GPS the incidences of alien spacecraft sightings have ummm “cratered.” In similar fashion the “Mysterious Bermuda Triangle” has faded into obscurity.

May 23, 2019 5:17 pm

“No F**king Clue” wouldn’t get YouTube links.

Has anyone done a “first prediction” v. “final total” 95% confidence range?

May 23, 2019 5:36 pm

” … NOAA is driving towards a community-based development program for future weather and climate modeling to deliver the very best forecasts … ”

Community-based model development? What are they talking about? Anyone know?

Reply to  WXcycles
May 24, 2019 3:17 am

They have realised their own incompetence and this probably means they will be able to blame its “projections” on somebody else.

May 23, 2019 6:10 pm

“This outlook forecasts a 40% chance of a near-normal season, a 30% chance of an above-normal season and a 30% chance of a below-normal season.”

So no matter what happens the prediction covers it. Kind of like all the things climate change causes, everything and it’s opposite.

May 24, 2019 12:18 am

The ongoing El Nino is expected to persist and suppress the intensity of the hurricane season.“. It’s as Klotzbach and Gray said, all those years ago: hurricanes decrease with warming, increase with cooling. If my memory is correct (big “if”), it’s in “State of the Climate” 2008.

May 24, 2019 4:56 am

a 40% chance of a near-normal season, a 30% chance of an above-normal season and a 30% chance of a below-normal season

Wow, they’re nailing it, aren’t they?

Tom T
May 24, 2019 8:48 am

When they get to decide if they name a storm or not, and the make the prediction of a 40% chance of near normal, and the includes the wide range of 9-15 it is almost impossible for them to be wrong, but if they are wrong they always get a mid-season adjustment. These are much better odds than the house gets in Vegas.

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