The 2017 Atlantic hurricane season isn’t over yet, and it’s already one for the record books.
While some folks are looking to persimmon seeds and woolly worms to help forecast the winter season, the 10Weather team launched an investigation into whether an active hurricane season can be an indication of a harsh winter ahead.
Dr. Phil Klotzbach, a research scientist at Colorado State University and one of the leading tropical experts in the U.S., said a few factors played into this year's hurricane season.
“We had very warm waters in the tropical Atlantic … warm waters provide more fuel for the hurricanes," Klotzbach said. "But really, I think the most critical thing this year was that we had very low levels of vertical wind shear. That’s the change in wind direction with height in the atmosphere.”
Those factors came together just right to have one of the top 10 most active seasons on record and many of those storms affected land.
“This year, the storms were tracking farther west than they have the past few years. Most of the nasty hurricanes the past few years have re-curved and gone out to sea whereas this year they kept going farther and farther west slamming into land," Klotzbach said.
While storms that make landfall can be devastating, they can also have beneficial impacts. For example, after 3 weeks without rainfall from mid-September into early October, drought conditions were beginning to develop in East Tennessee.
On Oct. 8, 2 to 4 inches of rain from the remnants of Nate brought us back into a surplus for the month, season and year.
As the seasons change, so do the factors that influence our weather, making it somewhat difficult to know what the winter season will be like.
“In the East Coast you not only have El Nino impacts but impacts from the North Atlantic Oscillation which really isn’t very predictable," Klotzbach said.
So, can an active hurricane season be an indication of a harsh winter ahead?
“The tropics can influence winter weather but there’s no 1:1 radio if you have an active hurricane season therefore you’re going to see more active winters or less active winters," Klotzbach said.