For the seventh year in a row, top forecasters predict an above-average Atlantic hurricane season that officially begins June 1.
Reports from AccuWeather and the team at Colorado State University show that this year the trend of named storms arriving more often than usual will continue, and talk of postponing the official date of the hurricanes continue.
AccuWeather’s Global Weather Center and its team of tropical weather experts, led by veteran meteorologist Dan Kottlowski, predict a more active season that could bring 16 to 20 named storms, six to eight of which could become hurricanes. They also predict that of these hurricanes, three to five could become major hurricanes (Category 3 or greater, maximum sustained winds of 111 mph+). In 2021, there were 21 named storms, seven hurricanes, and four major hurricanes. Of the 21 storms named last year, eight had a direct impact on the United States. The 30-year average of named storms is 14 per year.
To make such a long-term prediction, Kottlowski’s team studied various weather patterns, past hurricane seasons and climate models to help shape the outlook for 2022.
The El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO) is often used to paint a picture of the season ahead – whether the waters of the central and eastern Pacific Ocean are warmer or cooler, generally referred to as El Niño (more warm) or La Niña (colder) .
Current forecasts show that the existing La Niña pattern will transition to a neutral ENSO phase in late spring or early summer, meaning water temperatures in this area of the Pacific will be closer to average. .
Yes, Pacific waters play a major role in Atlantic hurricane season. Experts say that during La Niña patterns, wind shear becomes less prevalent in the atmosphere over the Atlantic.
As of March 30, Kottlowski, who has worked at AccuWeather for more than four decades, said a weak La Niña was in place and was expected to persist through the start of the tropical season. He said if La Niña is here to stay, or even gets stronger, there is a possibility of more than 20 named storms this season.
Kottlowski noted that in addition to the presence of La Niña, above-normal sea surface temperatures in key tropical development regions will lead to an above-normal probability of pre-season development for the eighth consecutive year. . He said temperatures were already above normal in many areas that meteorologists are watching closely for tropical systems in late March.
“Sea surface temperatures are above normal over much of the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean and even off the eastern seaboard of the United States, particularly on the southeast coast of the United States. , and these are critical areas for early season development,” Kottlowski said in a statement. This includes much of the central Atlantic, the part of the oceans that forecasters call the main development region, he added.
AccuWeather officials said sea surface temperatures near Key West were around 76 to 78 degrees as of March 28, about 1.6 to 3.8 degrees Fahrenheit above normal.
Officials said the waters are currently cooler in the eastern Atlantic and towards the African coast, but meteorologists expect the waters to be warm enough in this part of the basin at the height of the season, from mid at the end of August.
The northwestern part of Africa is also helping to shape the season ahead. Forecasters predict that strong winds will produce frequent tropical waves on the road this season. These tropical waves move through the Sahara Desert in North Africa and out into the open Atlantic where they can best organize into tropical depressions or tropical storms.
Kottlowski has previously said that about 85% of all tropical storm developments can be linked to tropical waves, which are areas of low pressure in the atmosphere that are generally located north to south and move west from Africa to the Atlantic.
With the official start of the season still a month away, Kottlowski urges people to begin hurricane preparations now, especially given global supply chain issues as well as the increased possibility of an early storm. .
“Don’t wait for June to prepare” he said. “We’ve had pre-season development over the past seven years and you definitely need to prepare now. Now is the time to put your hurricane plan in place.
The CSU Tropical Weather Project team forecasts 19 named storms during the Atlantic hurricane season, which ends Nov. 30. Of these, researchers expect nine to become hurricanes and four to reach major hurricane strength.
So far, the 2022 hurricane season has similar patterns to those of 1996, 2000, 2001, 2008, 2012 and 2021, CSU officials said. “Our analog seasons have generally shown near to somewhat above normal Atlantic hurricane activity,” said Phil Klotzbach, a researcher in CSU’s Department of Atmospheric Sciences and lead author of the report.
The team projects that hurricane activity in 2022 will be about 130% of the average season from 1991 to 2020. In comparison, 2021 hurricane activity was about 120% of the average season. The 2021 hurricane season saw eight continental US storms and two continental US hurricanes, including Category 4 Hurricane Ida which hit the central Gulf Coast and then brought devastating flooding to the mid-Atlantic and north -eastern United States.
The CSU team will release forecast updates on June 2, July 7, and August 4. As always, researchers are warning coastal residents to take appropriate precautions.
“It only takes one storm near you to make it an active season,” Bell said.