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Worst Hurricane Season In A Decade Threatens Gulf Coast Production

Worst Hurricane Season In A Decade Threatens Gulf Coast Production

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2017 could be an “above-normal” year for large hurricanes, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), a potential problem for Gulf Coast oil drillers and refiners.

NOAA puts the odds of an “above-normal” season for hurricanes at 45 percent, while the chances of a normal and below-normal season are at 35 and 20 percent, respectively. In fact, they said that there is a 70 percent likelihood of 11 to 17 named storms, which are storms that have 39 mile-per-hour winds or higher. About 5 to 9 of those could become hurricanes (winds of 74 mph or higher); 2 to 4 of which could become major hurricanes (winds of 111 mph or higher). The average season (which runs from June through November) tends to have just 12 named storms, so the potential for 17 named storms puts the 2017 hurricane season in more treacherous territory.

“We’re expecting a lot of storms this season,” Gerry Bell, lead seasonal hurricane forecaster with NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center, told reporters. “Whether it’s above normal or near normal, that’s a lot of hurricanes.”

Part of the reason for the expected uptick in hurricane activity is because the El Nino phenomenon is not expected to show up. El Ninos tend to suppress hurricanes. Also, sea-surface temperatures are above-average, which contributes to stronger storms.

There has been a decade-long lull in major hurricanes that have struck the U.S., but there is a growing probability that that changes this year.

That should be cause for concern for the oil and gas industry, much of which is located along the Gulf Coast. They have been spared the worst that Mother Nature has to offer for quite some time. Related: Oil Prices Fall As U.S. Rig Count Rises For 20th Straight Week

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