We put an official cap on the 2017 hurricane season on Thursday. NC State Climate Office’s Applied Climatologist, Corey Davis compares the predictions with the outcome:
“So, it’s interesting to think back to the spring, at that time the waters in the equatorial Pacific were warmer than normal, and it looked like we were going into an El Nino pattern for this fall and this winter, and because of that most of the predictions were for a below normal hurricane activity in the Atlantic. The reason being is that El Nino conditions tend to increase the trade winds across the Atlantic, and they tend to tear storms apart as they start to develop.
“Instead, over the summer the conditions flip-flopped, instead of seeing warmer than normal water temperatures, we are seeing cooler than normal. And it looks like we’re going to weak La Nina conditions for this winter. Because we didn’t have the strengthening of the Atlantic trade winds, we actually saw above normal activity in the Atlantic this hurricane season.
“We ended up with 17 total named storms, on average over the last 30 years we had 12, 10 of those were hurricanes, on average we had six, and then we had six major hurricanes, on average we’ve had about three. So, in all of those categories, we ended up above normal.”
They came out early in the summer and revised their original forecast, and based on that revision, we actually came in pretty close, didn’t we?
“That’s right. The National Weather Service actually updated their forecast a couple of times, one was right before the season started, and the other was in early August, sort of mid-way through the season. Both were increases on their previous forecasts. But, they both got pretty much right in the range that we ended up at.
“Their last forecast was for 14-19 named storms, at 17 we were right in the middle of that. We did have a few more hurricanes form than they expected, they said five to nine, and we had 10. Then, of course that really active September that we had threw all those predictions for a loop. We had so many storms, one after another that formed, and we had, again several major hurricanes that formed in that stretch, as well.”
On the east coast, here in the southeast, with the exception of Florida, we pretty much skated most of that.
“We did. North Carolina pretty much managed to get away unscathed, this season, especially when you compare to last season when we had Hurricane Matthew come through. That’s not to say we didn’t have some close calls; the forecast at one point for Hurricane Irma had it coming straight up the Atlantic coast, instead of it going in on the Gulf side, like it did. The forecast for Jose and Maria showed them coming in right at the North Carolina coast line. So, in that sense we were a little bit lucky, we escaped without any real storms coming even close. We had the remnants of Harvey and Irma that came through and just brought some minor precipitation to the state.”
We’ll be hearing more on the 2017 Atlantic hurricane season from NC State Climate office Applied Climatologist, Corey Davis tomorrow on Inside Agriculture.