SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) — The 2021 Atlantic hurricane season is just days away and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the Climate Prediction Center have released their seasonal forecast.
Their forecast is calling for an above average season with 13 to 20 named storms with 6 to 10 developing into hurricanes. 3 to 5 hurricanes may become major hurricanes of category 3 or greater.
The current climatological averages for the Atlantic are 14 total named storms with 7 becoming hurricanes. Typically we can expect just 3 major hurricanes. This is an increase over previous decades of hurricane activity.
2021 is looking to be above average for a number of reasons. First, the El Niño phase in the Pacific is neutral or may trend to a La Niña phase which promotes warmer than normal water temperatures in the Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean Sea. This has been a factor for many active hurricane seasons over the past several years.
Second, 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.
Third, 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.
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.