Hurricane season officially starts on June 1. And officially, this month marks a new record for the United States, reported CNSnews.com: It has been "127 months since a major hurricane has made landfall in the continental United States, according to statistics compiled by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Hurricane Research Division, which keeps data on all the hurricanes that have struck the U.S. since 1851." (see: "Season Approaches: U.S. Hits Record 127 Months Since Major Hurricane Strike," by Barbara Hollingsworth)
President Obama is the first U.S. President since Benjamin Harrison (who served from 1889 to 1893) whose presidency did not (so far, at least) see a "major hurricane" (defined as Category 3 or above, with wind speeds exceeding 111 mph) make landfall during his term in office. Now, if you lived through Hurricane Sandy (which officially made landfall as an extratropical "Superstorm," not a "Hurricane"), you may not see this record as meaningful. However, the fact remains that the U.S. is going through a lucky time in terms of hurricane strikes: a Category 3 storm hasn't hit the mainland since Hurricane Wilma struck Florida on Oct. 24, 2005.
So is our luck about to change? It's anyone's guess, of course. But there's good reason not to count on a hurricane-free 2016. For one thing, recent years haven't been free of strong storms. Several recent years have seen very strong storms form in the Atlantic, but high pressure over the continental U.S. and strong offshore steering winds kept those storms out in the Atlantic. There's no reason to expect those factors to continue.
And according to a Reuters report, conditions in the Pacific may be changing in a way that makes Atlantic hurricanes more likely this year (see: "Atlantic hurricane season could be more active than normal," by Karen Braun). "One of the most important factors playing into this season is the imminent presence of La Niña, the cold phase of the eastern equatorial Pacific Ocean," Reuters reported. Further, "Global ocean temperatures have been breaking new record highs over the past several months, meaning that together with reduced wind shear via La Niña, the atmosphere is practically rolling out the red carpet for the procession to begin."
Weather watchers are already keeping an eye on the sky. Hurricane expert Jeff Masters sees action in the tropics for late May (see: "A Memorial Day Weekend Tropical System For the Southeast U.S.?" by Jeff Masters). "We're fast approaching the official June 1 start of the Atlantic hurricane season," writes Masters in his Weather Underground blog, "and we already have an area of concern to watch for possible genesis of a tropical depression during the coming Memorial Day weekend. An area of low pressure is expected to form on Friday near to or a few hundred miles north of the Bahama Islands, and this low has the potential for tropical development as it moves northwest towards the Southeast U.S. coast. Sea Surface Temperatures (SSTs) over the Bahamas are about 28 - 29°C (82 - 84°F), which is 1 - 2°C (1.8 - 3.6°F) above average. These waters are plenty warm enough to support formation of a tropical storm."