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Odds of Florida Getting Hit by Hurricane This Year Are Low, Colorado State University Forecasters Say

Last week, the National Oceanic and Atrmospheric Administration reported that this year's hurricane season will spawn fewer storms than has been the norm. Now well-known forecasters Phil Klotzbach and William Gray of Colorado State University are basically saying the same thing.

Much like last year, Klozbach and Gray say we can thank El Niño, a system of warm air over the Pacific, for being extra strong this year, which means lesser chance of hurricanes forming in the Atlantic.

Last November, NOAA reported that El Niño has been a major reason hurricanes have failed to form. It disrupts the formation of storms with a stronger wind shear than usual, reducing the intensity of tropical storms and hurricanes. Moreover, it acts like a steroid for trade winds and atmospheric stability.

This hurricane season, which kicks off today and runs through November 30, will likely include just three hurricanes, the Colorado forecasters say, making it the lowest hurricane forecast since 1995. Between 1981 and 2010, the season averaged about 6.5 hurricanes. 

Last season, the two forecasters predicted nine named storms and three hurricanes. When the 2014 season ended, we saw only eight named storms form, well below the average  of 12 per season. Florida was spared from being hit for the ninth-straight season; Wilma was the last being the last hurricane to make landfall in the Sunshine State, back in 2005.

This year, Klozbach is forecasting seven tropical storms forming off the Atlantic. Moreover, he puts Florida's chances of getting hit by a hurricane at 27 percent. Last year, Klozbacha and Gray gave Florida 35 percent shot of getting hit.

The annual average leading up to last season had been 51 percent. 

Two years ago, the two Colorado forecasters gave Florida a 72 percent chance of getting hit by a major hurricane. Yet only Hurricanes Humberto and Ingrid emerged from the Atlantic, and neither were ever a serious threat to Florida. The rest of the storms became tropical disturbances and storms, and the ones that did hit Florida were mainly just annoying, dumping a lot of rain on South Florida.

Still, even with both NOAA and the Colorado forecasters saying this year will be tame, doesn't mean folks shouldn't be preparing anyway.

“A below-normal season doesn’t mean we’re off the hook. As we’ve seen before, below-normal seasons can still produce catastrophic impacts to communities,” NOAA Administrator Kathryn Sullivan, says. 

NOAA also points out that the 1992 Hurricane Season was a slow one, with just seven named storms in all. Yet one of those storms was Hurricane Andrew, which packed sustained winds up to 175 mph and was, at the time, the costliest hurricane to hit the U.S. 

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Chris Joseph
Contact: Chris Joseph

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