Based on numbers of expected storms, hurricanes and major hurricanes and not factoring in potential impact to land, 2012 is expected to be less active than last year.
There are a couple of factors that have led the AccuWeather.com Long-Range Forecasting Team to forecast lower numbers of named storms this year.
Starting Out with Less-Favorable Conditions
Compared to 2011, this Atlantic Hurricane Season will start out with a less-conducive environment for tropical storms to develop. The official start of the season in the Atlantic is June 1.
Strong high-level winds are in place over the western and central Caribbean, promoting increased wind shear. If these high-level winds do not abate, increased wind shear will inhibit tropical storm development early in the season.
Strong wind shear, which is the change of wind speed or direction with altitude, causes building clouds to be tilted, restricting vertical development. Unless a tropical system has a vertically oriented core, its ability to develop are diminished.
The surface pressure across the Atlantic is not as low as it was in 2011, when there was below-normal surface pressure across the Caribbean. The surface pressure is now near to above-normal in the same region.
When surface pressure is lower, it promotes tropical storm development.
"If numbers are low early in the season, then overall numbers for the entire season will turn out lower than the forecast," AccuWeather.com Expert Senior Meteorologist Dan Kottlowski cautioned.
Transition into El Niño
A shift into an El Niño pattern is expected by the peak of the Atlantic Hurricane Season, which occurs around Sept. 11. El Niño is a phenomenon classified by above-normal water temperatures in the central and eastern equatorial Pacific Ocean. It is often associated with diminished development of tropical systems in the tropical Atlantic.
A favorable set-up for tropical development in the Atlantic features a large area of high pressure over the central Atlantic with strong westerly winds located farther north.
"A change to El Niño forces the westerlies to migrate farther south, causing increased [wind] shear that will diminish or perhaps shut down further development beyond September," Kottlowski said.
Following a blustery and chilly weekend, temperatures will once again take a tumble across the northeastern United States during the first half of this week.
Several storms will bring periods of rain and gusty winds to the west coast of the United States this week.
A strengthening tropical cyclone will unleash heavy rain and strong winds on areas from western Myanmar to northeast India and Bangladesh this week.
Flooding downpours and thunderstorms will target a part of the central United States at midweek.
Dry weather set to dominate the southern United States into November will only worsen the already extreme drought conditions.
The changing of the seasons will bring beneficial rainfall to northern Brazil, a region that has experienced severe drought over the past several years.
Oceanside, CA (1999)
A 50' boat missed the harbor due to a wall of dense fog.
New England (1761)
Southeast New England Hurricane -- "most violent in 30 years"-- thousands of trees uprooted in MA and RI blocking roads.
Newbury, VT (1843)
12 inches of snow.