It might seem like we’re just catching our breath from the latest natural disaster, but the 2019 hurricane season is already drawing near—and wildfire season is already underway in some states. But there’s potential good news for people who are exhausted after what has felt like two nonstop years of climate-centric catastrophe.
Forecasters at Colorado State University say they anticipate the 2019 hurricane season in the Atlantic will have “slightly below normal activity.” And a wet winter in California could reduce the number of wildfires in that state.
As far as hurricanes go, experts say they expect to see 13 this year, with only two major hurricanes. There’s a 48% chance a major storm, either a Category 3, 4 or 5, will hit the east coast (though that’s less than the 52% average of the last century). Last year, there were 15 named storms, including two major hurricanes.
Credit a weak El Nino that seems to have staying power for the good news.
However, say the scientists “coastal residents are reminded that it only takes one hurricane making landfall to make it an active season for them.” Also, this early forecast is less accurate than updated ones that will come once the season is underway.
Last year, the first named storm hit on May 21.
There’s already evidence showing that wildfires are on the decline—in California, at least. As of April 2, there have been 149 wildfires in the state, compared to 720 in that period last year. That’s a 10 year low. And officials at Cal Fire say they believe that’s due, in part, to the soaking rains that have permeated the state this winter.
Fire activity for the first two months of the year nationwide has been well below average, says the National Interagency Fire Center. The group says it doesn’t see anything overly concerning in the forecasts between now and May. (June and July long-range forecasts, though, are a bit less optimistic.)
The saturated ground has been helpful so far, but authorities aren’t relaxing completely. Should extended heat waves combine with Santa Ana wind events, like last year, that could be a lethal combination that once again burns tens of thousands of acres and displaces residents.