On Tuesday, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) forecasters released their outlook for the 2022 Atlantic Hurricane Season. Their forecast is calling for another above-average season in the Atlantic basin, making it the 7th-consecutive above-average season. The Atlantic hurricane season runs from June 1 through November 30.
This season, NOAA is forecasting that 14 to 21 named storms will form. These storms will have sustained winds of 39 mph or higher. Of those named storms, 6-10 will be hurricane strength (winds of 74 mph or higher) with 3-6 of those becoming major hurricanes. Major hurricanes are tropical systems with winds of 111 mph or higher. It is important to note that this outlook is for the overall seasonal activity and not a landfall forecast.
The Atlantic hurricane season averages 14 tropical systems, seven of which become hurricanes and three, major hurricanes. Colorado State has also released their predictions for the upcoming season. They are forecasting 19 named storms with nine of those being hurricanes. Of those nine four will be major hurricane strength.
For more information on NOAA’s outlook, you can click here.
What Could Influence An Active Season?
There are multiple factors that would help support a tropical system thrive this season. The first environmental factor would be warm sea surface temperatures. Warm water, temperatures of 80 degrees or higher, is a key factor to support a tropical system. The warm, moist air rises causing clouds and storms to form. With a continuous rising motion, storms are able to continue developing. Another factor that will help tropical systems thrive is weak wind shear. Unlike tornadoes, high values of wind shear will break down a tropical system.
There are many climate factors that could lead to an active hurricane season, one main influence is La Niña. La Niña is looking likely to persist, leading to warmer-than-average sea surface temperatures. The warm moist air will rise supporting development. We will also see weaker tropical Atlantic trade winds, meaning lower values of wind shear. Most tropical systems in the Atlantic Basin form from waves off the west coast of Africa. With an enhanced monsoon season in Africa, it will help fuel potentially stronger and longer-living storms.
The 2021 Atlantic hurricane season was the 3rd-most active year on record, in terms of named storms. There were 21 named storms with seven of those being hurricane strength. Of those seven, four were major hurricanes. The most notable storm last year was Hurricane Ida, which was a category four hurricane. Ida was a category four hurricane that made landfall along the Lousiana coast. The Hurricane Committee has retired the name “Ida.” This is the 12th ‘I’ named storm and there are a total of 94 names that have been retired.