Forecasters trim hurricane season outlook a bit, still busy
This hurricane season may be a tad quieter than initially projected, but it is still likely to be busier than normal, government forecasters and others say.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration on Thursday trimmed their hurricane season outlook from a 65 percent chance for above normal activity to 60 percent and increased the odds of a normal season from 25 percent to 30 percent because of uneven sea surface temperature, including a patch of cooler water off Portugal.
The weather agency now predicts 14 to 20 named storms instead of its May forecast which was 14 to 21. The predicted number of hurricanes remains the same at six to 10 while those storms that hit major category of at least 111 mph are now forecast to be three to five instead of three to six. The forecast includes the three tropical storms that formed in June and early July, about average for this time of year, but quieter than the last few years.
An average season has 14 named storms with seven becoming hurricanes and three of those being majors, according to NOAA. There were 21 named storms last year, a record 30 in 2020 and 18 in 2019.
A persistent La Nina — the natural cooling of parts of the Pacific that changes weather worldwide — weak trade winds and some warmer than normal Atlantic water temperatures still point to a busy season, Rosencrans said. But the patches of cool water, with temperatures closer to normal than originally predicted in some places, “could kind of tamp down on activity,” he said.
Colorado State University, which pioneered hurricane season forecasts, also dialed back its predictions for the season compared to what it said in April. The school now predicts 18 named storms, down from 19, with eight becoming hurricanes, down from nine. Colorado State predicts four major hurricanes, same as it forecast in April.
About 90 percent of Atlantic storms happen from August on. Hurricane season peaks from mid-August to mid-October with the season ending on November 30.