Barbara Cassidy stands in front of her Davie, Fla., mobile home one month after Hurricane Wilma destroyed her home in 2005. Wilma was the last major storm to make landfall in the U.S. J. Pat Carter /AP
The 2014 Atlantic hurricane season is now officially upon us. And it comes in the midst of a historic lull.
Time explains that it’s been 3,142 days since a Category 3 hurricane or stronger made landfall in the United States. The last one was Hurricane Wilma, which at its peak had winds of 185 mph and made landfall in Florida in 2005.
“That’s an unprecedented streak, going back to 1900—the longest drought before the current one was nearly 1,000 days shorter,” Time goes on.
Now, if we are lucky — and some forecasters believe we may be — that streak may continue.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Climate Prediction Center, for example, is calling for a “near-normal” or “below-normal” hurricane season.
They explain that the prediction takes into account the development of El Niño, which is known to create wind shear in the Atlantic. That, in turn, interrupts storms and keeps them from strengthening.
The Department of Atmospheric Science at Colorado State University concurs with that forecast.
The scientists write in their seasonal forecast (pdf):
“It appears quite likely that an El Niño of at least moderate strength will develop this summer and fall. In addition, the tropical Atlantic has anomalously cooled over the past few months. We anticipate a below-average probability for major hurricanes making landfall along the United States coastline and in the Caribbean. Despite the quiet forecast, coastal residents are reminded that it only takes one hurricane making landfall to make it an active season for them. They are reminded to prepare the same for every season, regardless of how much or how little activity is predicted.”
Dr. William Gray and his team are forecasting nine named storms and only two major hurricanes. They say the U.S. coastline has a 35 percent chance of getting hit.
The hurricane season runs from June 1 through Nov. 30.