2018 Atlantic hurricane season: Developing El Niño predicted to limit hurricane formation

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AccuWeather meteorologists predict an El Niño to form during August and September, reducing the likelihood of tropical development.

El Niño is a weather pattern which occurs when warmer-than-normal sea surface waters develop in the central and eastern Pacific Ocean.

"As we enter an El Niño pattern, we are expecting an increase in the frequency of higher vertical wind shear across much of the basin," AccuWeather Lead Hurricane Forecaster Dan Kottlowski said.

"The more frequently upper-level westerly winds penetrate into the deep tropics, the less likely we are to see tropical development."

As a result, forecasters are now calling for 10 to 12 named storms during the season, a reduction from the 17 originally forecast earlier this year.

Of the storms predicted, it's believed there could be five to six hurricanes with two to four predicted to become major hurricanes.

While the numbers have decreased overall, impacts to the United States remain likely.

"The greatest potential for direct impacts from tropical storms and hurricanes will be the northern Gulf Coast, all of Florida and along the Carolina coast," Kottlowski said.

2017 brought six landfalling storms, including two major hurricane landfalls.

Three to four impacts are forecast this season.

Kottlowski added: "The number of landfalling storms, both tropical storm and hurricane, is expected to be lower than last year. However, all it takes is one storm or hurricane to highly impact a coastal area and cause catastrophic damage."

All islands and coastal areas should prepare for a direct impact, he said.

Atlantic hurricane season runs from June 1 to Nov. 30.

www.accuweather.com

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Weather Alert Online: 2018 Atlantic hurricane season: Developing El Niño predicted to limit hurricane formation
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