Hurricane researcher hints at busy season ahead
GEORGE TOWN – Colorado State University hurricane researcher Phil Klotzbach has hinted at a busy hurricane season for the Atlantic this year. Speaking at the US National Hurricane Conference in Florida, less than two weeks before he releases his April forecast, he warned that 2018 is going to be active.
“If hurricane season started today, it would probably be pretty active,” Klotzbach said. “But a lot can change between March and the peak of the season. Very small changes in atmospheric patterns can cause big differences in how the oceans respond.”
Given the devastating 2017 hurricane season, the conference has drawn a large audience, according to US reports, and Klotzbach gave his presentation to a full house, but he also made it clear that meteorologists are still struggling with long term hurricane forecasts.
With just two months before the season begins, Klotzbach warned that early forecasts are notoriously low in confidence, even though those tasked with dealing with disaster management want to know as much as possible – as early as possible. Last year Colorado’s early forecast fell well short of the season’s storm total but the weather expert will still be making a stab at a prediction next month as he finalises the data.
This year most forecast models are predicting a neutral climate pattern during the hurricane season, which means warmer temperatures in the Atlantic, fuelling the potentially active season.
“Hurricanes live off warm ocean water,” Klotzbach said.
Meanwhile, the Cayman Islands’ own weather guru, National Weather Service Director General John Tibbetts, has warned that the impact of climate change in Cayman, which is already leading to a hotter and drier climate, as well as rising sea levels fuels the negative impacts of major storms.
Speaking to Cayman 27 this week, he said, “When you have increasing sea levels and you put things like storm surge and hurricane waves on top of it, then all of a sudden it amplifies the problem.”