Hurricane season is well underway and one tropical cyclone—Hurricane Arthur—already made landfall in the United States. Meteorologists originally predicted a more active hurricane season for 2014, but eight of the nine named tropical storms that have passed through the country’s southeastern waters have not developed into hurricanes. With a slow start to hurricane season, disaster recovery companies warn businesses that they should keep their preparedness plans updated as there is still a lot of time remaining in the 2014 season, which ends November 30.
How Are Hurricanes Classified?
Meteorologists don’t consider a tropical system to be a hurricane until winds begin to circulate with a sustained speed of at least 74 miles per hour.
The Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale categorizes hurricanes with the numbers 1 through 5 based on the storm’s wind speed.
- Category 1: Sustained winds at 74 to 95 miles per hour
- Category 2: Sustained winds at 96 to 110 miles per hour
- Category 3: Sustained winds at 111 to 129 miles per hour
- Category 4: Sustained winds at 130 to 156 miles per hour
- Category 5: Sustained winds at 157 miles per hour or faster
The National Hurricane Center states that hurricanes that are a Category 3 or higher are considered major hurricanes. However, lower-category hurricanes are still dangerous. When Hurricane Sandy devastated the East Coast in 2012, it made landfall as a Category 1 storm.
2014 Hurricane Predictions
In April 2014, forecasters William Gray and Phil Klotzbach with Colorado State University released their predictions for the current hurricane season. In April, they forecasted that nine named storms and three hurricanes (one major) would form this season. At the beginning of June, they changed their prediction and stated that they forecast 10 named storms and four hurricanes (one major) to form during 2014. Gray and Klotzbach will issue a final seasonal forecast on July 31, 2014.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration predicted a “near-normal” or “below-normal” 2014 hurricane season. In May, it forecasted the development of eight to thirteen named storms and three to six hurricanes, with one or two being major hurricanes.
A Slow Start for 2014
In 2014, El Niño is playing a part in reducing the potential number of storms by creating warm ocean water temperatures in the Pacific Ocean that produce strong wind shears that affect the Atlantic Ocean. During hurricane season, El Niño conditions can strengthen trade winds across the Atlantic and increase atmospheric stability. This atmospheric stability makes it harder for cloud systems traveling from Africa to develop into tropical storms.
By forming further south than usual, the El Niño-strengthened trade winds combined with jet streams have helped break up tropical formations that could have become hurricanes.
Another significant factor affecting this seemingly slower hurricane season is the wind traveling from the Sahara Desert in Africa. During more active hurricane seasons, humid air from the Congo region has fueled the formation of hurricanes. This year, dry Saharan air mixed with the air over the Atlantic Ocean may have suppressed the formation of potential hurricanes as they tried to develop.
While the experts predict a normal hurricane season for 2014, disaster recovery companies urge businesses along the Gulf and East Coasts to be prepared because one hurricane can have detrimental effects to the community and businesses alike.
Include Polygon’s contact information and 24 hour emergency response phone number in your disaster recovery plan and list of emergency contacts. Our expert technicians will perform emergency disaster recovery services to prevent further damage after a storm, minimize your downtime and help ensure business continuity.
Photo provided by NOAA