Meeting professionals planning East Coast meetings this summer and fall would be wise to double — and maybe even triple — check their contingency plans, as AccuWeather.com yesterday released its forecast
for the 2014 Atlantic hurricane season, which begins June 1 and lasts through Nov. 30.
AccuWeather.com’s long-range forecasting team expects a “below-normal hurricane season” that will bring approximately 10 tropical storms, five hurricanes and two major hurricanes to the Atlantic Basin this year, with at least two of those storms making landfall in the United States.
“If we have a robust El Niño develop, then the numbers will be much lower and this could be one of the least active years in recent memory,” AccuWeather.com Senior Meteorologist Dan Kottlowski said in a statement.
AccuWeather.com describes an El Niño as “a short-term phenomenon associated with above-normal water temperatures in the equatorial Pacific [which] may alter weather patterns across the globe.” Because it will probably increase wind shear across portions of the Atlantic Basin, an El Niño likely would stunt the development of tropical storms.
However, meeting planners should not mistake low storm numbers for low storm risk.
“All we need is one hurricane,” Kottlowski said. “Just because we are saying this is going to be an inactive season doesn't mean we couldn't have a couple of very intense hurricanes.”
Although one or two storms are possible in June and July, AccuWeather.com says the greatest risk for a hurricane’s landfall will be in August, September and October. Areas to watch, it suggests, are those from eastern Louisiana, east through Florida and up through the Carolina and Virginia coasts, including the cities of New Orleans, Tampa, Miami, Key West, Charleston and Norfolk.
“I’m worried because people think this is going to be a very inactive year, so people think they don't have to worry, but that's not the case at all,” Kottlowski concluded. “All it takes is one storm or hurricane to ruin your vacation or your property.”
Or your meeting.
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