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2014 Atlantic Hurricane Season and an El Niño

When the 2014 hurricane season officially starts on June 1, it will have been 3,142 days since the last Category 3 hurricane made landfall along the U.S coastline (Hurricane Wilma, 2005). This shatters the old record for the longest stretch between U.S. intense hurricanes since 1900. In fact, landfalls in general have been down since 2005, with a rate of 0.75 landfalls occurring per year since 2006, versus the rate of 1.78 that had been experienced since the warming of the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation in 1995.

Although Superstorm Sandy is still fresh in the minds of many insurers in the Northeast, insurers in hurricane-prone states could become complacent due to the lack of storms since 2005. The “doom and gloom” forecasts for the 2013 hurricane season failed to materialize, and early predictions for 2014 have already hinted at below-normal named storm activity, contributing to such complacency. These Atlantic hurricane forecasts call for hostile conditions across the deep tropics due to the development of an El Niño, which brings increased wind shear across the Main Development Region (MDR) of the Atlantic and could lead to less overall named storm formation.

There is a lot of chatter about the possible development of a “super El Niño” similar to that which occurred in 1997–1998. This type of event would drastically limit overall hurricane development. However, the Pacific Ocean is in an overall cold phase (the Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO)), a state which often makes it difficult to have strong, long-lived El Niño events. Instead, the PDO suggests a short-lived El Niño, but the specific manifestations of any given El Niño event greatly depend on its strength. Every El Niño event is different, but overall the phenomenon has become associated with the following:

* An uptick in the average global temperature

* Increased rainfall in Peru

* Drought in Australia

* Warmer than average temperatures in Alaska

* Elevated rainfall in California during moderate and strong events

* Dry weather in the Pacific Northwest states

* Increased snowfall in the Mid-Atlantic, especially for moderate El Niño events

* Cooler and wetter than average conditions in the Southeast U.S.

* Increased hurricane activity in the eastern tropical Pacific basin

* Depressed hurricane activity in the tropical Atlantic

While El Niño years generally have lower instances of named storms that make landfall, there are plenty of examples of El Niño-influenced hurricane seasons that have impacted the U.S. coast. Below is a look at such years, as well as the number of storms that made landfall and the adjusted insured loss in 2014 dollars.

Year # of Landfalling Storms Adjusted 2014 Insurance Loss
1957 2 $1,489,000,000
1965 2 $11,177,500,000
1969 1 (Camille) $8,250,000,000
1976 5 $300,000,000
1991 1 (Bob) $1,730,000,000
1992 1 (Andrew) $28,005,000,000
2002 6 $902,050,000
2004 6 $28,387,500,000

As we learned last year, seasonal forecasting has its challenges. Currently, there is a 75% chance of an El Niño developing this summer during the peak of the Atlantic hurricane season. However, in 2012 when an El Niño watch was issued, an El Niño never formed. In fact, since 1997 there have been five threats of a super El Niño that never developed. Therefore, taking into account the uncertainty in any seasonal climate forecast and the history as shown in the chart above, there can be an increased threat from tropical storms even in El Niño years. The 2014 seasonal forecast might also focus on other regional climate forces. One of these forces might be that the Sea Surface Temperatures (SST) off of the Eastern Seaboard of the U.S. are warmer than normal, which not only adds fuel to storms like Superstorm Sandy, but also could lead to deepening of pressures if any tropical disturbances tap into this potential fuel source later this summer. This warmer water also likely means that storms could develop closer to the U.S. coastline.

The new seasonal hurricane forecasts, which will roll out around June 1, tend to have increased accuracy as compared to the spring projections. These forecasts will continue to reflect the evolution of the El Niño, which can be followed on the Climate Prediction Center’s website (El Niño/La Niña Current Conditions and Expert Discussions). BMS will also provide updates throughout the season, but expect new seasonal forecasts to call for named storm formation to be below normal for the 2014 Atlantic hurricane season.

Peak of Thunderstorm Season Approaching

Although we are approaching the start of May, which is the peak month for thunderstorm development, the 2014 thunderstorm season has been off to a historically slow start. One advantage to this inactivity is that the insurance industry benefits from low thunderstorm losses not seen since 2004. In fact, the insurance industry has reported only $780 million of wind and thunderstorm event losses over three events (with two events yet to be estimated), according to Property Claims Service (PCS). This is far below the $4.6 billion in wind and thunderstorm event losses that have occurred on average over the last 10 years.

Not including the tornadoes that have occurred over the last few days as designated in PCS Event #40, the Storm Prediction Center has recorded 109 tornadoes as of April 24 for the 2014 calendar year which, according to BMS’ in-house tornado database from the Storm Prediction Center, indicates that this year is the slowest start to a tornado season in the 62 years of recorded data. Although the recent outbreak of tornadoes will add to the tornado count, the official count will still be in record-low territory. Harold Brooks at the National Severe Storms Laboratory, who has examined nearly 100 years of past tornado records, states that he is “challenged” to find a year that started with less tornado activity than 2014. Of the nearly 100 tornadoes reported this year, only 20 of them had been rated EF1 or higher, with the first EF3 or higher rated tornadoes only recently being recorded with this latest outbreak. This breaks a streak of 159 days, which currently stands as the fourth-longest streak on record between major tornadoes.

Despite the massive tornado that carved a swath of damage across Moore, OK during the 2013 tornado season, overall tornado statistics show that the U.S. has been in a tornado drought since the second half of 2012, with a record low number of tornadoes in 2013. Part of the explanation for the drought in intense tornadoes that has occurred since October 2013 is the persistent dip in the jet stream over the eastern half of the nation. This has unlocked the floodgates for arctic air, essentially shutting down the instability that is needed to develop explosive thunderstorms, which are often fueled by heat and moisture from the Gulf of Mexico.

The long-term forecast suggests much of the same cold will continue across the North Central Plains into the East Coast through the start of May, which should aid in putting a lid on thunderstorm development. But an extremely quiet start to the tornado season guarantees nothing about its future course, since May and June, which average 116 and 60 tornadoes, respectively (based on records from 2003 – 2013 of EF1-rated tornadoes or greater), are usually the two busiest tornado months of the year in the U.S. Despite the historically slow start, when looking at the tornado data recorded since 1953, 37 of the 62 years, or 59%, have started with below-average tornado counts of EF1 or greater. Of the 37 years that started below average, 6 years, or 16%, ended up having an above-average tornado season, The most recent years with slow starts but above-average tornado activity are 2010 and 2004, which resulted in $12.7 billion and $3.5 billion, respectively, in wind and thunderstorm event losses, according to PCS. As we saw with the recent PCS #40 declaration, there will be tornado outbreaks that cause billions of dollars in damages, but a major year like 2011 or 2008 could almost be ruled out and this recent trend should make one rethink the claims of the “new normal” back in 2011.

 

McCall v. United States, So.3d, 2014 WL 959180 (Fla. 2014)…What Next?

McCall v. United States, — So.3d —-, 2014 WL 959180 (Fla. 2014)

This case involves a sad scenario where a young mother died from cardiac arrest due to excessive blood loss following the birth of her son.  The US District Court for the Northern District of Florida found the defendant medical practitioners liable and awarded the surviving petitioners $980,462.40 in economic damages and $2,000,000 in noneconomic damages.  The district court capped the noneconomic award to $1,000,000, pursuant to Florida statute §766.118.  Florida Statute §766.118 provides for limitations on noneconomic damages stemming from medical negligence actions.  Full text of this section can be viewed at http://www.flsenate.gov/laws/statutes/2011/766.118. The plaintiffs appealed to the Eleventh Circuit Court which certified four questions to the Florida Supreme Court.  The Florida Supreme Court answered the first question as rephrased below in the affirmative and declined to answer the other three.

DOES THE STATUTORY CAP ON WRONGFUL DEATH NONECONOMIC DAMAGES, FLA. STAT. § 766.118, VIOLATE THE RIGHT TO EQUAL PROTECTION UNDER ARTICLE I, SECTION 2 OF THE FLORIDA CONSTITUTION?

The court applied the rational basis test and determined that section 766.118 violated the Equal Protection Clause of the Florida Constitution.  According to precedent established by the Florida Supreme Court, to pass the rational basis test, the statute being challenged must serve a legitimate governmental purpose and it must be reasonable for the legislature to believe that the challenged classification would promote that purpose.  The court concluded that “The statutory cap on wrongful death noneconomic damages fails because it imposes unfair and illogical burdens on injured parties when an act of medical negligence gives rise to multiple claimants. In such circumstances, medical malpractice claimants do not receive the same rights to full compensation because of arbitrarily diminished compensation for legally cognizable claims. Further, the statutory cap on wrongful death noneconomic damages does not bear a rational relationship to the stated purpose that the cap is purported to address, the alleged medical malpractice insurance crisis in Florida.” (Opinion page 9, paragraph 2)

As previously noted, this case involves the death of a patient with three claimants seeking redress under the wrongful death statute.  So, what if the patient lives?  What if there is only one claimant?  How does the McCall opinion impact application of the cap in those instances?

The Court rephrased the first certified question to specify wrongful death economic damages rather than the more general noneconomic damages as originally stated.  The Court goes on to state in the statutory provision section of the opinion that at issue is Florida’s statutory cap on wrongful death noneconomic damages in medical negligence actions as articulated in section §766.118.  Footnote 2 further states that the legal analysis for personal injury damages and wrongful death damages are not the same and that the analysis on the present case is exclusively related to wrongful death.  These statements, collectively, would appear to limit the influence of the opinion to strictly wrongful death actions involving multiple claimants.

We know from reading the opinion that wrongful death remedies are made available through the Florida Wrongful Death Statute §768.16-768.26 and remedies for personal injuries resulting from tortious activity are derived from common law.  However, Florida Statute § 766.118(2-6) does not appear to differentiate causes of action for personal injury from wrongful death when determining applicable caps for noneconomic damages.  There are four parts Application of the caps under sub parts (a) and (b) stem from causes of action for personal injury or wrongful death.  Further, noneconomic damages are not distinguished by causes of action for personal injury or wrongful death.  §766.202(8) defines “noneconomic damages” to the extent the claimant is entitled to recover under general law, including the Wrongful Death Act.

It is difficult to predict how future cases will be evaluated by the Court.  While the Court makes it clear that the conclusion in McCall applies only to application of noneconomic caps in wrongful death actions, the structure of the statute doesn’t appear to specifically delineate application between wrongful death actions and person injury actions.  Further, expansive research provided in the opinion suggesting that if Florida ever had a medical malpractice crisis, it is over, seems to undermine § 766.118 in its entirety under the rational basis test for analyzing the right of equal protection under Article I, Section 2 of the Florida Constitution.

 

If you have any comments/questions about my blog or would like to contact me, please email: urban.friesz@bmsgroup.com

Disclaimer: This article and the Website content that can be linked to through this article are offered for informational purposes only. The article and linked-to Website content are made available without warranty of any kind. They are not offered or intended as advice on any specific facts or circumstances, and you should not rely on them as a substitute for independently obtaining such advice.

 

 

Introspect: 2014 Severe Convective Storm Season

The earth’s weather and climate is naturally variable on all time scales, and a number of factors can cause a sustained change to weather and climate. Referred to as “climate forcers,” these factors invoke the idea that they force or push the weather and climate towards a new state. These climate forcers have created a winter to remember over much of the U.S., but there is at least some (symbolic) hope for warmer weather in that the spring equinox has passed, which signals the end of astronomical winter in the northern hemisphere. But the official start of spring may have insurance companies wondering how the Severe Convective Storm (SCS) season might pan out. The latest BMS Introspect looks at the climate forcers that drive severe weather, and considers whether or to what extent they will influence the upcoming SCS season.

Are We Done with PCS Winter Storm Losses for 2014?

With February 28 marking the close of meteorological winter (December – February), a mountain of interesting stats are about to be released – so be prepared for media fact overload!

For the most part, these facts should show that points east of the Mississippi have experienced one of the coldest, snowiest winters since the late 1970s – and in some cases, depending on the area, the coldest, snowiest ever or at least since 1917. But, as last spring proved, the weather doesn’t pay close attention to the calendar. As a reminder, the north-central U.S. was cold and snowy with North Dakota having a record cold April and Duluth, MN having its snowiest month ever – helping to contribute to the fifth-largest April U.S. snow cover extent on record. Given the long-range forecasts, the extreme cold and some significant snow will continue in March, which will add to the records and likely create new ones.

The average U.S. temperature anomaly from Dec 1 – Feb 26 (shown below) clearly demonstrates the U.S. as a whole has been colder than the 30-year average. In fact, it would appear the U.S. has experienced 6 – 7 Polar Vortex episodes of cold air, when the nation’s average temperature anomaly dropped below -4 C (25 F). Interestingly, the nation as a whole was colder for a longer period of time during the first Polar Vortex outbreak during the second weekend in December than it was during the main event on January 5 – 8 – which the media dubbed the “Polar Vortex.”

Are we Done with PCS Winter Storm Losses for 2014?

Image Source: Weatherbell.com – Ryan Maue

To-date, PCS has estimated $1.5B in loss due to the media-dubbed “Polar Vortex.” This freezing, ice, snow and wind event brought blizzard-like conditions to some areas of the country, with cold air producing wind chills as low as -60 F and gusts of up to 45 miles per hour with white-out conditions. The cold temperatures often forced schools and businesses to close and caused water damage from frozen and burst pipes. The frontal system impacted many states as it moved south and east across the United States – including Mississippi and Georgia, which saw extensive damage from the wrath of this extreme event.

So far this meteorological winter season, five PCS Winter Storm events have contributed to $2.1B in loss – and $2B of that has come in 2014. Given that PCS digital records only go back to the 1950s and the PCS definition of a Winter Storm can be multifaceted (potentially including severe weather aspects such as tornadoes and hail) it is difficult to estimate the true Winter Storm component of PCS losses.

So… Have we seen the end of the Winter Storm losses for 2014?

Looking at the PCS Winter Storm data in January and February that include Winter Storm event perils such as snow, wind, ice, flooding and freezing – but exclude Severe Convective Storm  (SCS) event perils such as tornadoes and hail for states east of the Mississippi, the answer is essentially “yes” – with a projected 93% of the loss already incurred based on historical loss development. There are only five years on record when Winter Storm losses occurred in March, with the biggest impacts happening during the historic winter of 1976.

However, if you base the answer on the wider definition of Winter Storm perils, which include SCS events, we are not done yet. The U.S. could easily still experience a Winter Storm that creates severe weather such as tornadoes and hail across the southern states while producing Winter Storm-like perils across the north. A classic example of this type of PCS event is the March 12 – 14 1993 Storm of the Century, also known as the ’93 Superstorm (1993 PCS #46). The 1993 Superstorm still ranks as one of the costliest Winter Storm events of the 20th century, creating a PCS CPI adjusted loss of $2.8B. Based on the definition of Winter Storm that would include SCS perils, only 71% of losses have occurred thus far in 2014. With March roaring in like a lion and more cold, snow and severe weather forecasted for the eastern half of the nation over the next few weeks, we should anticipate adding yet more losses to the PCS Winter Storm total.

Hurricane Wilma’s 8th Anniversary

As we approach the end of the 2013 Atlantic hurricane season and take in the media attention around the anniversary of Superstorm Sandy, it is also important to mark the 8th anniversary of Hurricane Wilma’s landfall, which occurred October 24, 2005. This was the last major hurricane to make landfall on the U.S. coastline. It has now been 2,938 days without a major landfalling hurricane – remarkable given the changes scientists said might result from warmer sea-surface temperatures in the Atlantic Ocean. The U.S. landfalling hurricane event data set is one of the best meteorological records that exist in the U.S. In looking at the historical landfall record, the longest period without a major landfalling hurricane stands at 3,316 days (August 11, 1860 – September 8, 1869). If a major hurricane doesn’t make landfall in the U.S. next year, we will surpass the longest period without one.

Unless we are in some very unusual climate state that has not been discovered, there is a growing disconnect between overall Atlantic Basin activity and landfalling named storms. While the average overall Basin numbers are higher than normal since 2006, with every passing year since then the U.S. has seen only 19 named storms make landfall, and only six hurricanes – with no major hurricanes making landfall. This translates to a landfall rate of 0.75.

Using the landfall data from 1900, in a given year the expected landfall rate of a hurricane impacting the U.S. coastline is 1.5, with a 77% probability of at least one hurricane impacting the U.S. coastline. For major hurricanes the rate is 0.5 with a 40% probability – so the U.S. landfall rate is significantly below average.

Given this landfalling hurricane drought, the United States coastline has been lucky. Although insurance companies have been suffering losses of other types over it, the average annual hurricane loss during this drought has been just $4.9 billion, according to Property Claims Services. This is below the long-term average annual loss of $6.4 billion as calculated using the insured historical loss data from Dr. Pielke Jr., a database that attempts to normalize hurricane damages in the United States. Accounting for Superstorm Sandy in 2012, which was not a hurricane at landfall, this average annual loss since 2006 would increase to $7.7 billion.

With a below normal landfall rate of only 0.75 hurricanes since 2006, in the future the trend for more landfalls should correct back closer to the long-term rate if we assume that hurricane landfalls follow a poisson distribution and we are not in some unknown climate regime. After all, the probability of not having a major hurricane make landfall over a 9-year period is a very low 1%, meaning insurance companies should expect an increase in losses from hurricanes in the future. Something to ponder as we await next year’s forecast.

It’s a risky world

Over the last few weeks Travelers and Swiss Re released polls suggesting people perceive that the world is becoming a riskier place and many are under-insured.

The main driver for public opinion is that this is a perceived period of “more extreme weather”. Although many mention that it is a riskier world, many people don’t seem to be doing much about it. Generally, preparation for extreme events is poor and there often seems to be an overreaction or under-reaction of preparation to such events. This contrast highlights the subjective nature of individual risk perception.

It seems only urgent alarms of an impending “Frankenstorm” really inspire proactive preparation, sending people shopping for batteries and bottled water. All too often people assume that their flashlights, sandbags and backup generators will protect them from the fierceness of Mother Nature. Therefore, the more control over a risk you think you have, the less worried you might feel – no matter how false that sense of control might be.

We often view these risks in terms of probabilities, but many people are bad at understanding probabilities. It’s a good bet that most people who experienced a “once in a century” storm feel that such freakish weather is not likely to happen in the next few years or decades. Sorry, but Mother Nature does not work that way. There are probabilistic patterns for assessing the risk of natural disasters over the long-term. Managing risk is a real trick as the risks over the long-term are much larger than our very brief lifetimes have witnessed or can remember.

Our short memories often refer to past historical weather patterns that tend to get replaced by what we remember seeing more recently. As a meteorologist, I am not the only one guilty of consistently watching The Weather Channel when a major weather event is occurring. Some people would say many of us have become addicted and can’t stop watching television and scanning news sites and social media, far more than we actually require to stay informed.

That brings us to the transmitters of storm news – the media, both news and social. News coverage is far more likely to warn us that the sky is falling than to reassure us that it isn’t. “If it scares, it airs”, because anything that threatens us is more likely to grab our attention. If weather forecasts include days of Frankenstorm predictions, the future is going to feel frightening. To be fair, despite their breathless alarm-ism, the news media did make the public aware of Sandy, helping us prepare. The aftermath of Sandy demonstrated why we should worry.

Risk perception determines how prepared we are — or aren’t. It determines whether we follow government evacuation orders or make sure we have candles, working flashlights, and bottled water. When it comes to flood insurance, risk perception determines whether we buy insurance and polls suggest most people are confident that their home or dwelling are properly insured. However, flood insurance take-up rates are ridiculously low, suggesting the perception of flood risk is that flooding is not a high risk, yet time and time again high uninsured flood losses occur. Opinions of “it won’t happen to me” or “I’ve been through these storms before, it won’t happen again” do persist.

 

 

 

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Tropical Update: Approaching the Peak of the Hurricane Season

Historically, September 10 is the peak of the North Atlantic hurricane season, which typically sees 10 or 11 named tropical storms. This climatology number climatology number is usually represents the last 30 or 50 years, but the average since 1995 is higher – at 15 named storms, 8 hurricanes and 4 major hurricanes – and corresponds to the so-called active era in the North Atlantic, caused by warm Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation. With the storm Erin just being named in the eastern Atlantic Main Development Region (MDR), the storm total for this year (through the second week of August) sits at 5. This is about two weeks ahead of climatology, which suggests the fifth named storm is often observed around August 31. The first hurricane is climatology-observed on August 10, so unless the current activity develops into a hurricane, the Accumulated Cyclone Energy will continue to fall behind the climatological norm.

In August, Sea Surface Temperatures (SST) in the MDR extending from the Lesser Antilles to the Cape Verdes Islands warm significantly, which is one reason why three storms have formed in the MDR so far this year. It’s also part of the reason seasonal forecasts are calling for a more active than normal hurricane season.

Figure 1 shows the SST in the MDR. Image Credit: www.weatherbell.com

SSTs are solidly 27°C off the African coast and rise slowly to 28°-29° as tropical waves approach the Caribbean islands.  But lately the main issue is the presence of Saharan dust in the MDR.

Figure 2 is a look at the graphics from the NASA GEOS-5 model, which shows the dust that continues to occur over the MDR. Image Credit: www.weatherbell.com

I am not quite sure what is considered to be normal in terms of dust occurrence. But as a proxy in lieu of actual dust measurements over the MDR, we can look at the at the 400-mb- specific humidity over the last dozen years to demonstrate how dry the MDR has been (Figure 3). This dry, dusty air is not conducive to tropical development and has been the main reason why Chantal, Dorian, and most likely Erin have stayed below hurricane status and could result in less overall named storm active compared to what has been forecasted.

Figure 3 is the 400 mb Specific Humidity since June 1, 2013 over the MDR. Image Credit: NOAA / Earth System Research Laboratory

Over the past week many media outlets have been hyping the upcoming few weeks of the hurricane season.  This is because the strong, opposing wind shear has weakened across the MDR. Furthermore, the dry, Saharan air off the African coast has begun to dissipate, compared to earlier this season. Thus, conditions in the Atlantic are quickly becoming more favorable  for hurricane development, which should come as no surprise since about 80% of the season’s hurricane activity is produced in mid- to late August and  September.

Updated Seasonal Impact Forecast:

A high impact for the U.S. is still expected, but the newest weather pattern forecasted for the next month suggests a shift centered at a corridor near Florida rather than in eastern Florida and up the east coast. The European Center for Medium Range Weather Forecasting (ECMWF) model September forecast appears to be much wetter in the Caribbean and eastern Gulf, which supports the idea of seeing storms track in that area at this time of year.

Florida, which just had its wettest July on record (with 12.38 inches of rainfall – 4.91 inches above average), is an example of the large amount of moisture that has been observed along the east coast this hurricane season.  Because wet soil can increase basement leakage and tree fall, these wet soil conditions should lead to increased losses if the area is impacted by a named storm.

Approaching the Peak of the Hurricane Season

Historically, September 10 is the peak of the North Atlantic hurricane season, which typically sees 10 or 11 named tropical storms. This climatology number  usually represents the last 30 or 50 years, but the average since 1995 is higher – at 15 named storms, 8 hurricanes and 4 major hurricanes – and corresponds to the so-called active era in the North Atlantic, caused by warm Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation. With the storm Erin just being named in the eastern Atlantic Main Development Region (MDR), the storm total for this year (through to the second week of August) sits at 5. This is about two weeks ahead of climatology, which suggests the fifth named storm is often observed around August 31. The first hurricane is climatology-observed on August 10, so in terms of hurricane activity and the Accumulated Cyclone Energy will continue to fall behind the climatological norm.

In August, Sea Surface Temperatures (SST) in the MDR extending from the Lesser Antilles to the Cape Verde Islands warm significantly, which is one reason why three storms have formed in the MDR so far this year. It is also part of the reason seasonal forecasts are calling for a more active than normal hurricane season.

Figure 1 shows the SST in the MDR. Image Credit: www.weatherbell.com

SSTs are solidly 81°F off the African coast and rise slowly to 83°-84°F as tropical waves approach the Caribbean islands. However, lately the main issue is the presence of Saharan dust in the MDR.

Figure 2 is a look at the graphics from the NASA GEOS-5 model, which shows the dust that continues to occur over the MDR. Image Credit: www.weatherbell.com

I am not quite sure what is considered to be normal in terms of dust occurrence. But as a proxy in lieu of actual dust measurements over the MDR, we can look at the 400-mb- specific humidity over the last dozen years to demonstrate how dry the MDR has been (Figure 3). This dry, dusty air is not conducive to tropical development and has been the main reason why Chantal, Dorian, and most likely Erin have stayed below hurricane status and could result in less overall named storm active compared to what has been forecast for the season.

Figure 3 is the 400 mb Specific Humidity since June 1, 2013 over the MDR. Image Credit: NOAA / Earth System Research Laboratory

Over the past week many media outlets have been hyping the upcoming few weeks of the hurricane season. This is because the strong, opposing wind shear has weakened across the MDR. Furthermore, the dry, Saharan air off the African coast has begun to dissipate, compared to earlier this season. Thus, conditions in the Atlantic seem like they are quickly becoming more favorable for hurricane development, which should come as no surprise since about 80% of the season’s hurricane activity is produced in mid-to-late August and September.

Updated Seasonal Impact Forecast

A high impact for the U.S. is still expected with fewer named storms, but the newest weather pattern forecasted for the next month suggests a shift centered at a corridor near Florida rather than in eastern Florida and up the east coast. The European Center for Medium Range Weather Forecasting (ECMWF) model September forecast appears to be much wetter in the Caribbean and eastern Gulf, which supports the idea of seeing storms track in that area at this time of year.

Florida, which just had its wettest July on record (with 12.38 inches of rainfall – 4.91 inches above average), is an example of the large amount of moisture that has been observed along the east coast this hurricane season. Because wet soil can increase basement leakage and tree fall, these wet soil conditions should lead to increased losses if the area is impacted by a named storm.