Officially the Atlantic Basin hurricane season doesn’t begin until June 1, but it already has its first named storm, something that on average doesn’t happen until July.
But its precocity aside, Andrea isn’t necessarily a harbinger that what unfolds over the next few months will resemble the incredibly deadly and destructive 2018 season.
For starters, less than 24 hours after it formed, Andrea was downgraded to a “post-tropical cyclone” late Tuesday with maximum winds of about 35 mph, a few puffs below the 39-mph threshold for a name.
And the hurricane outlooks posted so far are calling for an average season, give or take a few storms. The government is due to release its outlook Thursday, and it would be surprising if it wasn’t similar.
Both forecasts referenced the el Niño event in which sea-surface temperatures over vast areas of the tropical Pacific are abnormally warm. Typically, the interactions with the overlying air generate shearing winds from the west that inhibit storms in the Atlantic Basin.
Those el Niño conditions are forecast to persist well into the hurricane season, which ends officially on Nov. 30. Expect the government outlook to do likewise.
On average, according to the hurricane center, 11 named storms form in the Atlantic Basin, which includes the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean, with six of those reaching hurricane strength, with winds of at least 75 mph, and two becoming “major,” with top sustained winds of at least 111 mph.
The Colorado State forecast sees 13 named storms, and five hurricanes, with two of those becoming major.
AccuWeather called for 12 to 14 named storms, 5 to 7 hurricanes, and 2 to 4 majors.