Parts of the country are still cleaning up after 2017’s devastating hurricane season, but forecasters are already sounding a warning bell about 2018. And even though hurricane season doesn’t officially begin until June 1, the first named storm could arrive as soon as this weekend.
Separate forecasts from North Carolina State University and Colorado State University predict there will be between 14 and 18 named storms on the eastern seaboard this year. Colorado State predicts seven of those will be hurricanes. North Carolina State believes between 7 and 11 will. (The Weather Channel, meanwhile, is predicting a slightly more sedate 13 named storms and six hurricanes, two of which it says will be major.)
In either model, that’s above the average. From 1950 through 2017, the average number of named storms has been 11. If there’s any good news, it’s that should the models prove true, it will still be less than 2017’s 17 named storms, 10 hurricanes and six major hurricanes.
Things could get started soon, too, as the National Hurricane Center issued an outlook Sunday about a low pressure system that “could acquire some subtropical or tropical characteristics” as it moves around the Gulf of Mexico in the coming days. Forecasters say it has a 40% chance of becoming a subtropical or tropical depression in the next five days. (Right now, the main threat is heavy rain in Florida as well as coastal areas in Georgia and South Carolina.)
Should that become a named storm, it will be known as “Alberto.”
Hurricane season is always a stressful time for the Caribbean, the Gulf coast, and the Southeast. Last year was especially so, when Hurricane Harvey slammed into Houston, causing up to $180 billion in damages, Hurricane Irma hit Florida hard, and Hurricane Maria decimated Puerto Rico.
In Puerto Rico, power has still not been fully restored in some areas eight months after the storm. The mental toll of the storm has been tremendous as well, as the overall suicide rate in the territory increased 29% in 2017, according to the Puerto Rico Department of Public Health.
The 2018 hurricane season in the Atlantic Basin runs from June 1 through November 30.