SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) — As we start to prepare for 2021’s hurricane season, NOAA (National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration) has released new data indicating that we are experiencing more storms each season.
In the world of climatology, averages are based on thirty years of observational data. This is true for most things weather including Savannah’s average high and low temperatures and hurricane season statistics.
Previously for determining the average amount of tropical activity in the Atlantic, climatologists used hurricane seasons spanning from 1981 to 2010. During that thirty-year range each season you could have expected 12 named storms (Tropical storms and hurricanes of any magnitude), 6 of the named storms becoming hurricanes, with 3 of those becoming major hurricanes (category 3 or grater).
Now as of 2021, the new thirty-year average is from 1991 to 2020. During that thirty-year range each season averaged 14 named storms, 7 of the named storms becoming hurricanes, with 3 of those becoming major hurricanes.
Over the past 10 years, tropical storm and hurricane development in the Atlantic has become more frequent for a number of reasons. The biggest change is due to warmer ocean water temperatures. With warmer water, more storms are able to generate and organize into tropical systems. Warm water also helps storms to become larger and stronger as it acts as the fuel needed for thunderstorm growth.
New satellites and better observation of storms has become more available over the past decade. Meteorologists are better able to see how storms are developing and how strong they become because of more satellite observations. Simply put, we can see storms developing more now than in the past. In previous seasons, there may have been more storms or stronger storms and meteorologists just could not tell. There was not as much available data.
Looking ahead to 2021’s hurricane season, according to Colorado State University researchers, the Atlantic season will be slightly more active than average. This comes just after the most active hurricane season on record in 2020 with 30 named storms. Thirteen of those storms were hurricanes and six of the hurricanes became major hurricanes.
One of the major contributing factors to having an active 2021 hurricane season is that the water temperatures near the equator are running a little above normal.
NOAA’s hurricane season outlook will be released in late May, just before the season begins. Hurricane season runs from June 1st though November 30th.