The year’s first forecast for the 2015 hurricane season predicts a considerably below-average season this year, with 7 named storms, 3 hurricanes and 1 major hurricane at category 3 strength or higher.
The 2015 Hurricane Seasonal Outlook, recently released by Dr. Phil Klotzback and Dr. Bill Gray at Colorado State University, is the lowest tropical season forecast the university has ever issued.
The forecast from the CSU team comes on the heels of one of the quietest hurricane seasons on record. Only eight storms were named in 2014. Six of those became hurricanes.
An average tropical season in the Atlantic contains roughly 12 named storms, 7 of which become hurricanes, and 3 that intensify to major hurricanes.
The Colorado State forecasters said the reason for their below-average forecast was due in part to the onset of El Niño, which is projected to strengthen throughout hurricane season. El Niño is the abnormal warming of the Pacific Ocean waters, which in turn causes cooler conditions in the Atlantic, making it less favorable for tropical development.
El Niño conditions also promote a stronger vertical wind shear in the Atlantic, making it more difficult for tropical cyclones to develop. In contrast, the presence of El Niño can lead to a more active tropical season for the Pacific Ocean.
The seasonal outlook is for the entire Atlantic Basin.