NOAA Predicts an Unusually Active 2024 Hurricane Season

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration issued a sobering prediction for the upcoming Atlantic hurricane season. They anticipate a record-breaking number of named tropical cyclones, estimating between 17 to 25. This is the highest forecast ever made in May for the Atlantic Ocean.

The NOAA forecast is just one of many recent projections from experts at universities, private companies, and other government agencies. These forecasts are predicting a likelihood of 14 or more named storms this season, with some even calling for well over 20.

During a news conference on Thursday, Rick Spinrad, the administrator of NOAA, stated that the agency’s forecasters predict that eight to 13 of the named storms will intensify into hurricanes, characterized by winds exceeding 74 mph. Among these hurricanes, four to seven of them are expected to be major hurricanes, falling under Category 3 or higher, with winds reaching at least 111 mph.

NOAA predicts that there is an 85% likelihood of an above-normal season, with a 10% chance of a near-normal season and a 5% chance of a below-normal season. On average, the Atlantic hurricane season consists of 14 named storms, which include seven hurricanes and three major hurricanes.

Having conditions that are favorable for nearly double the average number of storms significantly increases the likelihood of North America being hit by a tropical storm or, even worse, a major hurricane. Although it only takes one storm in a below-average season to cause devastation in a community, the increased chances of multiple storms in an above-average season pose an even greater risk.

This year, there are a total of 21 storm names on the official list, starting from Alberto and ending with William. In the event that all the names on the official list are used, the National Weather Service will then turn to an alternative list of names, a situation that has only occurred twice in its history.

In the past, NOAA has been known to release a forecast in May and then provide an updated forecast in August. One of the most notable May forecasts was back in 2010, when NOAA predicted 14 to 23 named storms. As it turned out, that year saw a total of 19 named storms by the end of the season. Last year, NOAA’s May forecast called for 13 to 19 named storms, but the updated forecast in August was even higher, with a prediction of 19 to 25 named storms. Ultimately, the 2020 season ended up with a record-breaking 30 named storms.

This year’s hurricane outlooks have been particularly aggressive due to the predicted unprecedented conditions.

Forecasters are anticipating an unprecedented combination of circumstances as they look towards the official start of the season on June 1. These circumstances, which have never been observed before in records dating back to the mid-1800s, include record warm water temperatures in the Atlantic and the potential formation of the La Nina weather pattern.

Brian McNoldy, a hurricane formation researcher at the University of Miami, highlighted the challenge faced by forecasters in predicting the upcoming hurricane season. In unprecedented circumstances like these, where no prior examples exist, forecasters can only rely on extrapolating from past outliers.

Warm ocean temperatures are a cause for concern among experts.

According to Phil Klotzbach, an expert in seasonal hurricane forecasts at Colorado State University, it appears that we are in for a hyperactive season.

The Atlantic Ocean’s crucial region where hurricanes originate is currently experiencing unusually high temperatures, marking the beginning of an alarming season. Benjamin Kirtman, an atmospheric sciences professor at the University of Miami, has described these conditions as unprecedented and an out-of-bounds anomaly.

In the last century, temperatures have been gradually increasing. However, what alarmed climate scientists was the rapid warming of the waters in a specific area of the Atlantic where most hurricanes originate. This region, spanning from West Africa to Central America, is currently experiencing higher temperatures compared to the previous year’s hurricane season, which saw the development of 20 named storms.

The temperatures in the Atlantic at present are worrisome as they indicate that the ocean is ready to supply more energy to any storm that develops. Even if the surface cools suddenly, the temperatures beneath the surface, which are notably higher than usual, are anticipated to quickly warm up the surface temperatures again.

Warmer temperatures have the potential to fuel the development of storms and contribute to their longevity. In certain cases, when there are no other atmospheric factors impeding a storm’s progress, they can escalate at a faster rate than normal, even surging through hurricane categories within a span of less than 24 hours.

Forecasting experts are increasingly confident that there will be a significant increase in the number of storms this hurricane season. This confidence is fueled by the combination of rising sea surface temperatures and the subsiding El Nino weather pattern in early May.

With El Nino fading away and a potential La Nina on the horizon, forecasters are growing more confident in their predictions.

El Nino occurs due to fluctuations in ocean temperatures in the Pacific, and its impact extends to weather patterns worldwide. In the case of a strong El Nino, it typically hinders the formation and intensification of storms. However, the warm ocean temperatures in the Atlantic last year diminished El Nino’s ability to fulfill this role. Forecasters anticipate a weakening of El Nino, which means there won’t be much to hinder the upcoming hurricane season.

According to Michelle L’Heureux, a forecaster at the Climate Prediction Center of the weather service, there is a strong belief among experts who study El Nino patterns that it will soon diminish. Furthermore, there is a 77% probability that La Nina, its counterpart, will emerge during the peak of hurricane season.

According to the expert, the current stage of spring is progressing as expected, although there is a chance for unexpected changes. With the anticipation of a La Nina weather pattern, forecasters are already preparing for an above-average year. The combination of La Nina and the record-breaking sea surface temperatures this hurricane season is predicted to create an optimal environment for the formation and intensification of storms.

Reference Article

Avatar photo
MBS Staff
Articles: 7042

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *