FIRST ALERT: Coastal Carolina University releases annual hurricane outlook

FIRST ALERT: Coastal Carolina University releases annual hurricane outlook
(Source: WMBF News)

CONWAY, SC (WMBF)  Coastal Carolina University has released its annual seasonal hurricane forecast.  The forecast calls for "normal to above normal" hurricane activity.

The Hurricane Genesis & Outlook (HUGO) project at Coastal Carolina University uses a variety of atmospheric and ocean factors to develop a forecast of not only the number of storms that form during hurricane season, but also where those storms may make landfall.

The latest HUGO Outlook predicts a normal or above normal number of named storms this hurricane season. The forecast states the number of named storms will be a "range of 11 to 18 named tropical storms with 15 the most likely number".  Of those named storms, HUGO predicts that "5 to 9 will become hurricanes with the 7 the most likely number".  The forecast also calls for 2 to 5 major hurricanes with the 3 the most likely number during the 2018 hurricane season.

In an average year, there are 12 named storms, 6 hurricanes and 2 major hurricanes.

In addition to forecasting the number of named storms, HUGO also attempts to make a forecast for the number of potential landfalls on the east coast and gulf coast.

A recent press release from CCU stated "the HUGO study predicts a landfall probability range of zero to 2 for both coastlines. The most probable scenario calls for at least 1 hurricane landfall on the East Coast and at least 1 hurricane landfall on the Gulf Coast during the 2018 season. The second most likely scenario is that no hurricanes will make landfall on either coast. The third most likely possibility is that 2 hurricanes will make landfall on the U.S. Atlantic East Coast and for 2 hurricanes to make landfall on the U.S. Gulf Coast."

The press release also stated that "scenarios for the 2018 hurricane season are dependent on a number of factors in the latter part of June and in July, according to Len Pietrafesa, research professor in CCU's Burroughs & Chapin Center for Marine and Wetland Studies (BCCMWS) and leader of the HUGO team."

"The key issues at this point in time are 1) how the El Nino will develop and 2) how warm the upper ocean of the North Atlantic will become later in the season," said Pietrafesa.

As the hurricane season develops, further outlooks from CCU and HUGO will be updated.

The press release went on to state that "past HUGO outlook forecasts have proven to be highly accurate. The 2016 and 2015 outlooks were correct in nearly every category (number of tropical storms, number of major hurricanes, landfalls on both the East Coast and Gulf Coast). The 2015 outlook correctly forecast a most likely scenario that no hurricanes would make landfall on either the East or Gulf coasts and also accurately forecast the number of hurricanes at 4. The 2016 forecasts for all numbers were spot on, including 1 landfall on the Gulf Coast (Hermine) and 1 on the East Coast (Matthew)."

While these seasonal outlooks on hurricane season are valuable tools in forecasting and preparing for hurricane season, it's very important to remember that it only takes one storm making landfall to make a huge impacts.  Category 4 and 5 hurricanes have struck the US in very slow hurricane season, and the US has sometimes been spared in very active seasons.  Now is the time to review your family hurricane plan and prepare for the upcoming hurricane season.

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