• 61°

Threat of 2019 major Gulf hurricane near average

By Skip Rigney

Researchers at Colorado State University issued their outlook for the 2019 Atlantic basin hurricane season on Thursday, April 4. Before diving into the details for the season which officially begins on June 1, and which typically peaks in August and September, let’s look at the weather that will be affecting Pearl River County the next several days.

Forecasters are closely watching weather patterns for Sunday and Sunday night. The ingredients for strong to severe thunderstorms could come together, first across southern Louisiana, and then move into south Mississippi. Rain could be heavy and linger into Monday, although the threat of severe weather appears to be highest on Sunday afternoon into Sunday night.

Sometime on Monday a southeastward moving front will sweep through the region dropping our rain chances to near zero for Tuesday and Wednesday.

The air behind Monday’s front will be noticeable more for its dryness than its coolness.

Temperatures in Pearl River County both before and after the frontal passage are forecast to climb to near or above 80 degrees every afternoon for the next week.

Now back to the 2019 hurricane season outlook issued on Thursday by a team of atmospheric scientists at Colorado State University led by Dr. Philip Klotzbach. This is the 36th year that tropical meteorology researchers at CSU have issued a seasonal hurricane outlook for the Atlantic Ocean basin, which includes the Caribbean Sea and Gulf of Mexico.

The CSU team use four predictors to estimate Atlantic tropical cyclone activity. These include springtime sea surface temperatures in the eastern Atlantic and sea level atmospheric pressures over the North Atlantic and eastern tropical Pacific.

This year for the first time their algorithm includes a computer model forecast of sea surface temperatures for this coming September in the eastern tropical Pacific. This predictor should help capture the state of the atmospheric and oceanic phenomenon known as El Nino, which is known to influence Atlantic hurricane activity.

After crunching all the numbers, the researchers report a 28 percent probability that at least one major hurricane will make landfall somewhere on the Gulf Coast between the Florida Panhandle and the southern tip of Texas in 2019. That is practically equivalent to the 30 percent average that has been observed over the past century.

Looking at the much larger area that includes all of the Gulf of Mexico, Caribbean Sea, and North Atlantic Ocean, the scientists expect five hurricanes, slightly below the 30-year average of 6.4.

Tropical depressions are named as tropical storms when their winds reach 39 miles per hour. The outlook for the total number of named storms, that is both hurricanes and tropical storms, is 13, which is just slightly above the 30-year average of 12.1.

Of course, as the report points out, “As is the case with all hurricane seasons, 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.”

You can read the full CSU outlook online at tropical.colostate.edu.