Hurricane season expected to be extra active

There could be up to 25 named storms this year.

The Atlantic hurricane season for this summer is expected to be particularly active due to a dangerous combination of factors, namely unprecedented ocean heat and a looming La Niña weather pattern.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has predicted an 85% chance of an above-average hurricane season, with expectations of between 17 to 25 named storms, 8 to 13 hurricanes, and 4 to 7 major hurricanes (Category 3 or higher).


The big picture: The forecast for the upcoming hurricane season is considered extraordinary, setting a new record for one of NOAA’s May outlooks, underscoring the severity of the conditions contributing to increased storm activity.

  • Various entities, including universities, governments, and private weather companies, have also issued seasonal forecasts aligning with NOAA’s projections, with most foreseeing a busier and more intense hurricane activity in the Atlantic basin.
  • The critical drivers of hurricane activity are warm ocean temperatures in the Atlantic region, which provide the necessary fuel for storm development, and the presence of either La Niña or El Niño weather patterns in the Pacific Ocean. La Niña tends to enhance Atlantic storm activity by fostering storm formation while suppressing storminess in the Pacific.

Go deeper: The ongoing record warmth in ocean waters, combined with an upcoming La Niña event, suggests a heightened risk for an active hurricane season, prompting concerns among meteorologists and researchers about the potential impacts of these conditions.

  • Elevated sea surface temperatures, akin to mid-August levels, have been observed in the primary hurricane formation areas in the Atlantic in May, signaling a potentially early start to the hurricane season and raising apprehensions about the intensity and frequency of storms.
  • The contrast with last year, which featured a strong El Niño pattern inhibiting storm activity, underscores the significant impact of ocean warmth in dictating hurricane prevalence and underscores the enhanced danger posed by warmer ocean currents.
  • Factors contributing to the record warmth in ocean waters include human-induced climate change, potential external events like the undersea volcanic eruption in the South Pacific, and reductions in sulfur emissions from ship fuels, which have collectively exacerbated global warming patterns.
  • The ongoing trend of increasingly active hurricane seasons, with seven of the last ten years surpassing long-term averages, highlights the broader influence of climate change on storm intensity and frequency, posing significant challenges for disaster preparedness and response efforts.
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