Y’all better buckle up because hurricane season is coming, and federal scientists have predicted it will be *checks notes*... uh, pretty damn normal.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) announced its annual hurricane outlook Thursday, and they aren’t expecting it to be a wild ride. El Niño conditions, which are expected to persist through the summer and maybe even the fall, coupled with the Atlantic’s warmer-than-usual waters should make for a not-so-scary season. While El Niño could help keep hurricanes away, the sea temperatures help counteract that effect. Plus, the moist air masses over West Africa for its monsoon season help increase chances of hurricanes.
Although NOAA expects an average season, it still estimates there’s a 30 percent chance we’ll have an above-normal season and an equally likely chance we’ll have a below-normal season. We could see anywhere from nine to 15 named storms this year, and four to eight of them are expected to become hurricanes with two to four spiraling into major hurricanes.
The season hasn’t even officially started—it begins June 1—but we’ve already got our first named storm of the year: Subtropical Storm Andrea.
There’s concern NOAA won’t be able to make these predictions quite the way it used to as the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) wrestles with whether to sell off more of its frequency to mobile carriers trying to expand their 5G coverage—at the risk of taking the required frequency levels from NOAA forecasters who need it to track storms and weather patterns, reports Wired. During the hurricane outlook, NOAA came out in support of 5G and said it is working with the FCC to find an “optimal solution” where we can have both 5G deployment and an accurate forecast.
Storm predictions have been improving over the years with some claiming Europe’s got the weather modeling down. However, NOAA launched some upgrades to its own Global Forecast System this year, so maybe its predictions will be more spot on this time around. We’ll have to wait and see, but what’s clear is that predictions can only go so far to prepare people for what’s to come.
Either way, states are gearing up: Texas on Wednesday approved $3 billion to cover flood control projects. Hurricane Harvey taught the state in 2017 the hard way that it’s better safe than sorry. No level of warning or money, however, can prepare residents for the sight of flooded highways, the disruption with school closures, and the heartbreak that accompanies loss.