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UA forecasters: below-average hurricane activity this season

Posted at 5:07 PM, Jun 27, 2018
and last updated 2018-06-27 20:07:49-04

The University of Arizona forecasting model has predicted a below-average number of hurricanes for the 2018 hurricane season. University researchers are predicting four hurricanes, two of which will be major, defined as those reaching Category 3, 4 or 5. That forecast falls below the median of seven hurricanes with two majors.

According to UA associate professor and director of the UA's Climate Dynamics and Hydrometeorology Center, Xubin Zeng, the prediction is among the lowest of all published forecasts, which include predictions by the National Oceanic and other universities around the nation and the world.

Last year, the UA's forecast was among the highest, 11 hurricanes with six majors. The forecast also came closest to hitting the mark. "our forecast has proved to be extremely accurate over the last four years," Zeng said. The 2017 hurricane season ended with 10 hurricanes and six majors, making it the most active since 2005. Last year, hurricanes Irma and Maria were 5s, and Harvey and Jose were 4s.

A main reason for this year's prediction is the low sea surface temperatures over the Atlantic, where little warming occurred from April to May. The sea surface temperatures are the lowest UA forecasters have seen since 2014, but similar to long-term average temperatures.

If the 2018 UA hurricane forecast is as accurate as it has been over the last few years, the U.S. can expect smoother sailing as it continues to recover from an estimated $282.16 billion in damages caused last year during one of the most catastrophic hurricane seasons in recent history.