The 2014 Hurricane forecast is out and early indications are that it should be a fairly quiet season. Why is that? Well the big hindering factor this year will be the likely development of an El Nino, the first since 2009.
The El Nino phenomena occurs when sea surface temperatures off the Pacific equatorial coast of South America become warmer than normal. This occurs when westerly winds transport warm waters across the Pacific Ocean. These westerly winds also result in higher wind shear over the Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic Ocean. Tropical systems do not develop well in areas of higher wind shear.
The official forecast from Colorado State University calls for 9 named storms with 3 becoming hurricanes and only 1 becoming a major hurricane (Category 3 or stronger).
Now keep in mind, all it takes is one storm to make for a bad season. For example if we look back at 1983, it was an incredibly quite year. Only 4 named storm developed, but it was the very first one, Alicia, that caused over 3 billion dollars in damage when it plowed through the Houston metro area. In 1992, Hurricane Andrew, one of the most destructive hurricanes to impact the U.S., was 1 of only 7 named storms that season. So to reiterate, it ONLY TAKES ONE STORM TO MAKE FOR A BAD YEAR!
Here in Southeast Texas we have seen our fair share of hurricanes since 2005 (Rita, Humberto, and Ike), but we have now gone 5 straight seasons without a landfalling storm. That is great news for us, however, no matter how we look at it, the Gulf of Mexico is right in our backyard. There is no way to avoid the potential impact of a hurricane. We just have to be prepared for what Mother Nature has in store for us.
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