Two months after warning that the 2018 hurricane season was going to be an intense one, forecasters have revised their model and now say it’s actually going to be a bit light.
Colorado State University forecasters Philip Klotzbach and Michael Bell now say they expect 11 named tropical storms in the 2018 season. Four of those, they say, are likely to become hurricanes.
That’s a big dip from their model in May, where they predicted there would be between 14 and 18 named storms on the eastern seaboard, seven of which would be hurricanes.
Should that prediction prove true, that puts 2018 in average and below-average territory. From 1950 through 2017, the average number of named storms has been 11 (though from 1981-2010, the average has been 12). There were 17 named storms in 2017—10 hurricanes and 6 major hurricanes.
“The tropical and subtropical Atlantic is currently much colder than normal, and the odds of a weak El Niño developing in the next several months have increased,” the new forecast reads.
As the predicted grand total falls, so too does the predicted number of major hurricanes, those classified as Category 3 or higher. CSU forecasters now say they expect just one, rather than the originally predicted three. And the odds of of a direct hit on the U.S. coast from a major hurricane have fallen from 63% to 39%.
Right now, the National Hurricane Center is not tracking any tropical depressions or storms. There is one disturbance, though, that the group gives a 70% chance of becoming an organized storm. Should it become a tropical depression or a more serious storm, though, it is (at present) far enough out in the Atlantic that it does not seem to present any threat to land.
Hurricane season is always a stressful time for the Caribbean, Gulf Coast and Southeast. Last year was especially so, when Hurricane Harvey slammed into Houston, causing up to $180 billion in damages; Hurricane Irma also hit Florida hard and Hurricane Maria decimated Puerto Rico.
In Puerto Rico, power has still not been restored some 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 Nov. 30.