By Justin Drabick

The 2011 hurricane season was impressive, with 19 named storms and 7 that became hurricanes.

The highlight was Irene, the first hurricane to make landfall in the U.S. since 2008.

So what’s in store this year? For answers, we look to the ocean.

La Niña has weakened and become neutral, but El Niño is forecast to return later this summer.
This warm water current in the Equatorial Pacific inhibits tropical development in the Atlantic. It increases wind shear, which tears apart storms and weakens them, but it only takes one landfall to make for an active season.

This summer, the Bermuda High pressure system may set up in its normal location. The clockwise wind flow around the High could help steer a tropical system up the East Coast. The last time the Jersey shore saw a direct hurricane hit was in Atlantic City in 1903.

The Eyewitness Weather Team researched past decades to find years that had similar climate conditions to 2012. Each of those years had near average tropical activity. 2006 was the most similar, and it even had the same names as this year. We had an Alberto and a Beryl…Chris is next.

The potential for El Niño and cooler than normal water in the tropics has us forecasting a less active season overall.

Normally, the Atlantic hurricane season averages 12 named storms, 6 hurricanes, and 3 major hurricanes that are category 3 or higher.

The Eyewitness Weather Team’s 2012 hurricane forecast is for 10-13 named storms, 4-6 hurricanes, and 2-4 major hurricanes.

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