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NC State Researchers Predict Normal 2019 Hurricane Season for East Coast

Hurricane Florence Credit: NOAA

Researchers at North Carolina State University are predicting a normal hurricane season.

The 2019 season should see 13 to 16 named storms forming in the Atlantic basin, which includes the entire Atlantic Ocean, the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea, according to Lian Xie, professor of marine, earth and atmospheric sciences at NC State. While this is slightly higher than the long-term (1950 to 2018) average of 11 named storms, it is in line with the recent (1995 to 2018) average of 14.

Of those named storms, five to seven may grow strong enough to become hurricanes (the historical average is six), with the possibility of two to three storms becoming major hurricanes.

For the Gulf of Mexico, Xie’s data indicate the likelihood of four to seven named storms forming in the region, with one to two of the storms becoming a hurricane. Historic averages for the Gulf are three named storms and one hurricane.

Xie’s methodology evaluates more than 100 years of historical data on Atlantic Ocean hurricane positions and intensity, as well as other variables, including weather patterns and sea-surface temperatures, to predict how many storms will form in each ocean basin. Xie notes that this year, the potential for the ongoing weak El Niño to strengthen injected significant uncertainty into the forecast.

Xia Sun, graduate research assistant in marine, earth and atmospheric sciences at NC State, also contributed to the research.

The Atlantic hurricane season runs from June 1 through Nov. 30.