Weather

Why Fewer Atlantic Hurricanes May Not Lower Risk On Texas Coast

One of the nation’s leading storm research centers predicts we might be entering a “quiet period” for Atlantic hurricanes.

Hurricane Andrew
Hurricane Andrew was not the deadliest tropical cyclone to strike the U.S. mainland, but the compact, fast-moving storm remains one of the strongest and costliest on record.
We’re now at the peak of what so far has been a relatively quiet hurricane season.

“We’ve had well below normal hurricane activity and this is likely to be the third year in a row. Right now were at about 50 to 60 percent of normal,” says Phil Klotzbach, a weather researcher at Colorado State University, known for its annual hurricane forecast.

Klotzbach tells News 88.7 that we may now be entering a prolonged quiet period — maybe lasting 20 years — of a below average number of hurricanes coming across the Atlantic. The cause he says is cooler water flowing down from the far northern Atlantic into the tropical Atlantic. Cooler water means less energy to form big storms.

But don’t think that means the Gulf Coast can let its guard down.

Klotzbach says the Gulf can produce its own hurricanes, like Alicia in 1983. Storms he says that are unaffected by the Atlantic.

“So it really doesn’t change the odds of landfall on the Gulf Coast however it does tend to reduce the odds of landfall on the East Coast,” says Klotzbach.

And even in quiet periods like the last one that stretched from 1970 to 1994, there were still some big storms.

“Obviously you can still see huge amounts of damage, even in quiet periods, for example 1992 Hurricane Andrew,” says Klotzbach.

Hurricane Andrew was the costliest hurricane in U.S. history at the time, only to be outdone by Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

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Dave Fehling

Dave Fehling

Director of News and Public Affairs

As Director of News and Public Affairs, Dave Fehling manages the radio news operation at Houston's NPR station. Previously, he was a reporter at the station, covering the oil & gas industry and its impact on the environment. He won top state honors for in-depth and investigative reporting as well...

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