Researchers say the 2017 storm season could be less severe than 2016, when Hurricane Matthew became the first Atlantic Category 5 hurricane since 2007. (Photo By: NASA)
"We estimate that 2017 will have four hurricanes, 11 named storms and two major hurricanes of Category 3 strength or better," said Philip J. Klotzbach, lead researcher for CSU's Tropical Meteorological Project, in an April 6 report.
That compares to a median range of more than six hurricanes, 12 named storms and two major storms hurricanes, based upon the project's 29 years of data collection.
Klotzbach cited relatively cold water temperatures in the North Atlantic and the probability of a weak to moderate El Niño event in the equatorial Pacific as factors contributing to the forecast.
"We anticipate a below-average probability for major hurricanes making landfall along the United States coastline and in the Caribbean," said Klotzbach. "Coastal residents are reminded that it only takes one hurricane making landfall to make it an active season for them. They should prepare the same for every season, regardless of how much activity is predicted."
The CSU forecast predicts a 69 percent chance that a storm with winds of 39 to 74 mph will make landfall along the U.S. coast in 2017. The outlook foresees a 74 percent probability that a storm with hurricane-strength winds exceeding 75 mph will make U.S. landfall. That compares with 84 percent in an average year.
This is the 34th year that the project has issued tropical weather outlooks. The forecasts are based on analyses of long-range meteorological, atmospheric and oceanographic data. The April predictions will be followed by monthly updates issued in June, July and August.
The Atlantic hurricane season, which covers tropical weather activity in the Atlantic basin, the Caribbean Sea and the Gulf of Mexico, runs June 1 through Nov. 30.