2018 Hurricane Season Update
August 21, 2018
As we push into late August, the Atlantic Basin is approaching the climatological peak of its hurricane season. Earlier this year, most seasonal forecasts for 2018 were for near to slightly above normal tropical cyclone activity in the Atlantic, mainly due to neutral El Nino Southern Oscillation conditions and normal to above normal sea surface temperatures (SSTs) in the Main Development Region (MDR). Since then, some changes have occurred, with SSTs in the MDR becoming slightly below climatological norms. Combined with higher than average wind shear across the Caribbean Sea and dry and dusty conditions caused by enhanced easterly winds across the Saharan Desert, recent seasonal forecasts are expecting near normal tropical storm and hurricane numbers. However, major hurricane numbers are expected to be below normal. At present we are slightly above normal in terms of what is typically expected by the middle of August in the Atlantic Basin, with 5 named storms.
The Pacific Ocean has been substantially more active in 2018. In the eastern Pacific, 12 storms have reached at least tropical storm strength, with 6 hurricanes and 4 major hurricanes. The western Pacific has seen 20 storms reach tropical storm strength, with 7 typhoons. The strongest cyclone on Earth in 2018 occurred in the western Pacific, with July’s Super Typhoon Maria having peak sustained winds of 160mph with a minimum central pressure of 915mb.
At present, the Atlantic Ocean remains quiet. It is a far cry from last year, where at this time the tropical wave which eventually became Hurricane Harvey was pushing across the central Caribbean Sea. Despite the dearth of activity, we still have over a month of peak hurricane season remaining. It only takes one poorly placed storm to have a major negative impact on those in the United States and offshore, and DTN Marine Meteorologists will continue to keep a watchful eye on the Atlantic basin, providing advanced notice to all interests in the region.