On Thursday morning, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) forecasters released an updated prediction of the 2022 hurricane season. They are still forecasting an above-average season in the Atlantic Basin, making it the seventh consecutive above-average season. There is still 88 percent of the hurricane season left and the peak will occur in September; the season will end on November 30th.
With Thursday morning’s update, NOAA is forecasting that 14 to 20 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 3-5 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.
National Hurricane Preparedness Week
So far this season there have only been three named storms; Alex, Bonnie, and Colin. Although the season has been quiet, activity will begin to pick up heading into August and September. The peak of hurricane season is on September 10th.
Here in the Tennessee Valley, we don’t see direct impacts from tropical systems. The main impact we see is excessive rainfall which could lead to flash flooding. Another threat is isolated tornado activity from the outer bands that rotate into the region.
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.
La Niña May Impact The Atlantic Hurricane Season
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.