In its 2014 Atlantic hurricane season outlook, NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center is forecasting a near-normal or below-normal season. Key information from their report includes:
The main driver of this year’s outlook is the anticipated development of El Niño this summer. El Niño causes stronger wind shear, which reduces the number and intensity of tropical storms and hurricanes. El Niño can also strengthen the trade winds and increase the atmospheric stability across the tropical Atlantic, making it more difficult for cloud systems coming off of Africa to intensify into tropical storms.Should you avoid a cruise from the first of June until the hurricane season ends on the 30th of November? Judging by my experience, I would say not necessarily. After more than two decades of covering the cruise industry and more than a hundred personal sailings, we have only encountered a cruise altering hurricane situation once. Our voyage on what we began to call the Hurricane Sandy Cruise began with a bus trip up I-95 from Fort Lauderdale to Jacksonville, Florida to board Holland America Line’s Eurodam for the Malt Shop Memories Cruise. We hadn't given hurricane season a thought because it had been a light storm year hurricane-wise and the official season was nearly over. We were well taken care of by Holland America Line and our Entertainment Cruise Productions hosts for the Malt Shop Memories Cruise in terms of getting us on board and enjoying our cruise; however, the weather is certainly something to think about. Hurricane Sandy (pictured above) could have sunk our trip.
The outlook calls for a 50 percent chance of a below-normal season, a 40 percent chance of a near-normal season, and only a 10 percent chance of an above-normal season. For the six-month hurricane season, which begins June 1, NOAA predicts a 70 percent likelihood of 8 to 13 named storms (winds of 39 mph or higher), of which 3 to 6 could become hurricanes (winds of 74 mph or higher), including 1 to 2 major hurricanes (Category 3, 4 or 5; winds of 111 mph or higher).
These numbers are near or below the seasonal averages of 12 named storms, six hurricanes and three major hurricanes, based on the average from 1981 to 2010. The Atlantic hurricane region includes the North Atlantic Ocean, Caribbean Sea, and Gulf of Mexico.
Travel insurance is an important consideration to cover cruisers in such situations. For more information on what to expect, Cruise Diva takes an in-depth look at what’s in store if your vacation plans find you Cruising Into Hurricane Season.
Image Courtesy NOAA/NASA