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Forecast calls for more tropical storms — but it’s unlikley any will reach California

By in Press Enterprise on May 17, 2017

By David Downey

Warm ocean water will generate more than the usual number of tropical storms in the eastern Pacific this summer, a weather forecasting service has predicted. But an expert said that doesn’t mean Southern Californians should start fretting that a hurricane will make landfall anytime soon.

AccuWeather this week issued a forecast stating that 19 tropical storms, 10 hurricanes and seven major hurricanes likely will develop over the next few months – compared with 15, eight and four in a typical year.

Bill Patzert, climate scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, said there is a strong basis for the forecast given the pool of warmer-than-usual water between Hawaii and Central America.

“That’s the area where eastern Pacific hurricanes are nurtured,” Patzert said.

He said that same pool fed atmospheric rivers that delivered a wet winter to Southern California following five punishing dry years. He said he believes the warm sea surface is partly left over from the 2015-16 El Ni#xf1;o.

In any event, the hurricane forecast is more of a concern for Central America and Mexico as tropical storms – fed by bath-temperature water – usually fizzle out in the chilly sea long before they reach Southern California.

“The chance for a land-falling hurricane in Southern California is virtually zero,” Patzert said. “All you would get is the remnants of a tropical storm breaking up over Baja.”

It’s unclear whether the uptick in storm activity will translate into more rain for Southern California.

With its Mediterranean climate, the region is almost always bone dry throughout summer. And John Dumas, a meteorologist with the Oxnard office of the National Weather Service, said a Climate Prediction Center outlook suggests there is an equal chance the region will have a drier-than-normal or wetter-than-normal summer.

Eric Boldt, warning coordination meteorologist for the National Weather Service in Oxnard, said that most of the […]    

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