NOAA updates 2021 hurricane season forecast; still expecting above average season

WSAV Hurricane Central

SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) — The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the Climate Prediction Center released their mid-season forecast Wednesday. There are no major changes in the forecast with NOAA is still predicting an above normal season.

Their new forecast is calling for an above average season with 15 to 21 named storms with 7 to 10 developing into hurricanes. 3 to 5 hurricanes may become major hurricanes of category 3 or greater.

This new forecast accounts for the 5 systems we already had this season (Ana, Bill, Claudette, Danny, Elsa). The only big update comes with the total number of named storm. It has increased from a total of 13-20 named storms with their original forecast to 15-21 named storms in the newest release.

The current climatological averages for the Atlantic are 14 total named storms with 7 becoming hurricanes. Typically we can expect just 3 major hurricanes. There has been an increase over previous decades of hurricane activity.

2021 is looking to be above average for a number of reasons. Easterly trade winds in the Atlantic are appearing to be weaker than what is typically observed. Strong wind shear that can tear apart developing storms will be less likely though the season.

Also, the west African monsoon will be very active meaning more tropical waves that will move into the Atlantic. Since there will be more systems with other ingredients in place for development, more storms have a chance at growing into full tropical storms or hurricanes.

However, sea surface temperatures in the Atlantic Ocean are not expected to be as warm as they were during the record-breaking 2020 hurricane season.

While the season is looking to be above average, this is not a forecast of where storms may develop or impact. It does take just one storm for a hurricane season to be a bad season locally.

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