Press Release

Department of Disaster Management
Release Date:
Tuesday, 17 February 2015 - 4:45pm

Forecasters are uncertain about how the 2015 Atlantic hurricane season will look if the currently developing weak El Niño persists throughout the summer months.

This initial uncertainty comes ahead of the first quantitative forecast for 2015 which will be issued on April 9.

Though uncertain of actual projections at this point, research scientists at the Colorado State University (CSU) believe that we are still in an active era for atlantic basin tropical cyclones which started in 1995. CSU’s Philip J. Klotzbach and Professor William M. Gray also expect that typical conditions associated with a positive Atlantic Multi-Decadal Oscillation (AMO) and strong thermohaline circulation (THC) will return in 2015.

According to the university, the Atlantic Multi-Decadal Oscillation refers to the natural variability that occurs in the North Atlantic Ocean and which is evidenced through fluctuations in sea surface temperature and sea level pressure fields. The AMO is related to fluctuations in the strength of the oceanic thermohaline circulation which in turn is driven by fluctuations in salinity and temperature. When the THC is stronger than normal, the AMO tends to be in its warm (or positive) phase and more Atlantic hurricanes typically form.

The forecasters are considering four possible scenarios which range from thermohaline circulation becoming unusually strong and no El Niño event occurring, resulting in a 10 percent chance of seasonal average net tropical cyclone activity with the development of 14 to 15 named storms, to the other extreme of THC becoming weaker along with the development of a significant El Niño, resulting in NTC of 40 and a 10 percent chance that five to seven named storms will develop.

Despite the current uncertainty, Director of the Department of Disaster Management, Ms. Sharleen DaBreo has stressed the need for early preparations for the 2015 season, noting that tropical cyclone activity can occur at any time throughout the June 1 to November 30 hurricane season and the increasing occurrence of hazard events outside of the established season.

 “We cannot be complacent, we must be ready at all times,” Ms. DaBreo said, adding, “We live in an area of the world that is vulnerable to natural hazard impacts and the only way to ensure that we are able to recover from these events is to be in a constant state of readiness.”

Not only is the department encouraging early preparations, it is leading the charge by initiating the planning process earlier.

 “Our work plan for 2015 has been completed and we have been holding meetings with our sector partners to discuss the activities planned for the year. We are planning better and we hope to be much more efficient than last year in our efforts to ensure that we are able to respond and recovery quickly,” Ms. DaBreo stated.

The underlying concept in the current Comprehensive Disaster Management Strategy and Programming Framework is to develop SMART communities.

Ms. DaBreo affirmed that the DDM will continue to promote the use of sustainable, mitigation, adaption and resilient techniques (SMART) to ensure that structured efforts are made towards addressing the impacts of hazards, climate change and the emerging health hazards that are affecting communities.