Oak Hill, WV (WOAY-TV): Chief Meteorologist Chad Merrill had an exclusive interview with the team leader for the Colorado State University Tropical Outlook Team. CSU has been developing seasonal hurricane outlooks for the last 40 years.
Check out Chief Meteorologist Chad Merrill’s exclusive interview with team leader Senior Research Scientist Phil Klotzbach:
Senior Research Scientist Phil Klotzbach indicated a developing El Nino and warm sea surface temperatures in the Atlantic are two of the leading factors for this year’s outlook. While El Nino tends to lead to an increase in wind shear which limits tropical development, warm Atlantic temperatures foster named storms.
Klotzbach’s team is forecasting 13 named storms in the Atlantic, which is one less named storm than the recent 30-year average. The team is also forecasting fewer hurricanes (only 6 expected) and fewer than average major hurricanes (only 2 expected).
Klotzbach said it’s impossible to pinpoint where any tropical system will make landfall this far out, but there are certain states more favored based on climatology. Florida, North Carolina and Louisiana are historically favored for landfall of an Atlantic storm.
Chief Meteorologist Chad Merrill indicated southern West Virginia tends to see the most tropical activity in September, followed by August and then June and October. Favored landfalling tropical storms in North Carolina and Alabama have a higher likelihood to bring rain to southern West Virginia. Merrill said the average tropical system brings about 1 inch of rain to our region, with higher amounts favored in northern Nicholas and Pocahontas County. Wind damage from a tropical system is rare, except for the area near Pineville.
Klotzbach said his team identified 1969, 2002, 2004, 2006, 2009, 2012, 2014 and 2015 as previous years that show similar characteristics to the 2023 Atlantic Tropical Season. Merrill added that in five of those eight years, West Virginia saw impact from at least one tropical system.
The underlying message is that despite the forecast for a less than active Atlantic Hurricane Season, southern West Virginia should not its guard down. Of course, the StormWatch 4 Weather Team will follow the tropics and relay any potential impacts to the viewers in our 7-Day outlook.