Colorado State University (CSU) researchers continue to predict a below-average hurricane season for the Atlantic basin in 2014, citing exceptionally unfavorable hurricane formation conditions in the tropical Atlantic combined with the likely development of a weak to moderate El Niño event.

The below-average prediction is largely due to strong vertical wind shear, dry mid-level air and cool sea surface temperature anomalies in the tropical Atlantic and Caribbean.

The CSU Tropical Meteorology Project team is calling for a total of 10 named storms during the Atlantic hurricane season, June 1 to Nov. 30. Of those, researchers expect four to become hurricanes and one to reach major hurricane strength (Saffir/Simpson category 3-4-5) with sustained winds of 111 miles per hour or greater.

Hurricane Arthur formed in early July, so they expect an additional nine named storms and three hurricanes for the remainder of the hurricane season.

The team bases its forecasts on more than 60 years of historical data that include Atlantic sea surface temperatures, sea level pressures, vertical wind shear levels (the change in wind direction and speed with height in the atmosphere), El Niño (warming of waters in the central and eastern tropical Pacific), and other factors.

“So far, the 2014 season is exhibiting characteristics similar to the 1957, 1986, 1993, 2002, and 2009 hurricane seasons, all of which had below-normal hurricane activity,” said Phil Klotzbach, lead author of the report.

“The tropical Atlantic remains anomalously cool, and vertical shear throughout the basin remains at above-average levels.  In addition, the chances of a weak to moderate El Niño event during the peak of the hurricane season remain elevated,” Klotzbach added. “Historical data indicate fewer storms form in these conditions.”

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