Hurricane center: Potential 'Otto' brewing

NCAROLINA-FARMING16
N.C. hog farms swamped by Matthew, in a busy tropical-storm season.

While 2016 won’t rank among the most-destructive hurricane seasons in the Atlantic Basin, this certainly has been a busy one.

The National Hurricane Center sees an 80 percent likelihood that a storm a few hundred miles north of the Caribbean Islands will earn a name in the next five days, meeting the 39 mph peak-wind threshold.

If that happens, that will be named storm No. 15 in the Atlantic Basin, which includes the Caribbean and the Gulf of Mexico.

The average for the entire season, which ends Nov. 30, is 11. So far, six of the 2016 storms have become hurricanes, with winds of at least 74 m.p.h., which is just about average.

The nation has had its share of flooding related to hurricanes, Matthew being the most-recent example,  but it has been 11 seasons since a major hurricane -- winds of 111 m.p.h. or better – made landfall on a U.S. coast, a record run of good fortune.

The hurricane center says that if Otto does form, it is unlikely to threaten that streak, since it is expected to curve out to sea by the end of the week.

When issuing the government’s outlook back in May, Gerry Bell, the lead seasonal forecaster, said that \ an active hurricane period that began in 1995 might be coming to an end.

Historically, active and relative lull periods have been alternating in roughly 25- to 40-year cycles, evidently tied to changes in atmospheric and oceanic circulation.

Give the sheer quantity of storms this year suggests that the active period might not be over quite yet.