This satellite image provided by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration shows Hurricane Sam, center right, in the Atlantic Ocean, Monday, Sept. 27, 2021. On Tuesday, federal meteorologists say the Atlantic should expect a another very busy hurricane season in 2022. (NOAA via Associated Press)
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WASHINGTON — Federal meteorologists forecast an unusually busy seventh consecutive hurricane season in the Atlantic.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration predicted Tuesday that the Atlantic summer will produce 14 to 21 named storms, with 6 to 10 becoming hurricanes and 3 to 6 becoming major hurricanes with winds above 110 mph. Even with normals moving up to reflect more active storm seasons in recent decades, these forecasts are above the 30-year average of 14 named storms, seven hurricanes and three major hurricanes.
The National Hurricane Center has run out of names for Atlantic storms for the past two years, with a record 30 named storms in 2020 and 21 last year. In the past five years, there have been more Category 4 and 5 hurricanes in the United States than in the previous 50 years combined.
This hurricane season “is going to be similar to last year and given that you only need one storm to significantly affect your life, if you don’t plan around that prospect, you plan to fail” said NOAA Administrator Rick Spinrad. Associated Press Tuesday. “You can literally bring that perspective to the bank when it comes to protecting your property.”
Every weather factor pointed to a busier season, said Matthew Rosencrans, senior hurricane season outlook forecaster for NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center. He pointed to a decades-long trend of more storms in the Atlantic, an active monsoon season in West Africa, a La Nina – the natural and occasional cooling of parts of the equatorial Pacific that alters the weather in the around the world – and warmer than normal ocean temperatures. , which scientists believe are fueled by climate change.
Several outside hurricane experts agree with NOAA that Atlantic conditions are ripe for another active hurricane season. They say La Nina reduces wind shear that could decapitate storms. The warmer water — about half a degree warmer than last year in storm-forming areas, according to Rosencrans — is fueling hurricanes. A reduction in air pollution particles has suppressed artificial cooling in the Atlantic and a new study links this to increased storms.
Last week, President Joe Biden also warned the nation of “another tough hurricane season” ahead.
Since you only need one storm to drastically affect your life, if you don’t plan around that prospect, you plan to fail. … You can literally bring that perspective to the bank when it comes to protecting your property.
–Rick Spinrad, NOAA Administrator
“We’re seeing these storms happening more frequently. They’re lasting longer,” FEMA Director Deanne Criswell said at a news conference in New York. NOAA says 13 people in the city died during Hurricane Ida, 11 of them in flooded basements. It’s also the 10th anniversary of Super Hurricane Sandy, a decommissioned hurricane that became one of the costliest weather disasters in American history with massive flooding in New York City.
“We’ve seen such a dramatic shift in the type of weather events that could be seen as a result of climate change,” Criswell said.
NOAA said there was a 65% chance for an “above normal” hurricane season, 25% chance for a normal season, and only a 1 in 10 chance for an unusually calm season.
A key indicator, which takes into account the number of storms, their strength and duration, is called the Accumulated Cyclone Energy Index or ACE and Rosencrans said this year could be up to double normal since 1950. The calculation is used to determine what is an average season and what is above average.
The average ACE since 1950 is just under 100, while the past six years have ranged from 132 to 225 in 2017.
That streak of six straight years above average is a record, breaking the previous mark of three straight years, said Phil Klotzbach, hurricane researcher and seasonal forecaster at Colorado State University. He said it is highly likely the record will expand to seven this year.
“It’s really a strange thing that we’ve had six consecutive seasons that were so active,” said Brian McNoldy, a hurricane researcher at the University of Miami.
NOAA’s forecast matches 10 other weather teams – government, academic and private – that have made their forecasts for hurricane season. The average of their forecast is for 20 named storms, with eight becoming hurricanes and four becoming major hurricanes.
Since La Nina has a different effect in the Pacific and conditions are generally opposite, NOAA predicted a calmer than normal Pacific storm season earlier this month.
Atlantic hurricane season begins June 1.