Experts lower seasonal hurricane forecast but urge caution

- Colorado State University released its seasonal hurricane forecast (PDF), which says the East Coast and the Gulf of Mexico will see a "below average hurricane season" for two main reasons.

1. Atlantic water temps are cooler than average.

2. We are on El Niño watch. If El Niño fully develops, it is known for suppressing Atlantic hurricane seasons.

"Obviously the big concern is people shouldn't get lackadaisical when you forecast a below-average season and likewise when you forecast an above-average season, even in a very active season, most portions of the coast aren't going to be impacted in any year," said Phil Klotzbach, a research scientist at Colorado State. "But it just takes that one storm to make it an active season for you. And I think that's the most important point you make every year. You need to be prepared the same for every hurricane season."

Klotzbach and other experts are behind the updated forecast, which lowered the number of major hurricanes this season from seven to now four.

"We can't let our guard down. I always like to say you can predict five storms for a season, you can predict 15 storms for a season," Fox 5 chief meteorologist Nick Gregory said. "All it takes is one really bad one to ruin your day and cause billions of dollars in damage even if you get nothing the rest of the season."

And that happened. In 1992, the same prediction of few major hurricanes was made and then Hurricane Andrew formed. The deadly Category-5 hurricane destroyed the Bahamas and Florida.

"The idea is that this is an informational tool, it's not a preparedness tool," Klotzbach said. "You never tell people, 'Hey, we're forecasting an above-average season, you got to prepare more or prepare less.'"

Regardless the prediction, this is a good time to make sure you have an emergency preparedness kit with food, water for at least three days, flashlight, batteries, first aid supplies, and a plan on how to communicate with family if you lose power.

Hurricane season officially ends November 30.


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