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2020’s record-breaking hurricane season was catastrophic in the southern United States and Central America. Additionally, experts predict that the 2021 hurricane season will again be overactive. Below, learn all about the earliest predictions for 2021’s potentially destructive Atlantic hurricane season.
An early start to hurricane season
2021’s Atlantic hurricane season is approximately four weeks away, officially running from June 1 through November 30. However, for the past six seasons, hurricane season started early.
Starting in 2015 onward, at least one named storm developed before June 1. Some of these storms impacted the United States, and others affected Caribbean islands. A panel of hurricane experts has been holding discussions on whether hurricane season should be revised to officially start on May 1.
18 storms in 2021
One chief meteorologist forecasted that the 2021 Atlantic hurricane season will have approximately 18 named storms. This forecast is slightly higher than the 30-year average, from 1991 to 2020, of 14 named storms, seven hurricanes, and three major hurricanes (hurricanes of Categories 3 through 5).
Another group of hurricane researchers in North Carolina has predicted 15 to 18 named storms in the Atlantic basin during the 2021 season. This amount is considered high as, since 1951, there have been 11 named storms per year on average.
Additionally, another team of researchers from Arizona has made striking predictions for the 2021 hurricane season. This team used a computer model that combines projections of wind, sea surface temperature, humidity, pressure, and precipitation with the researchers’ deep understanding of hurricane formation. After using the model 51 times, the team analyzed their data and also predicted 18 named storms.
11 storms will become hurricanes
Researchers have projected that out of the 18 named storms, eight will become hurricanes and three will be major hurricanes. A major hurricane that is classified Category 3 has a wind speed between 111 to 129 miles per hour, and Category 4 and 5 hurricanes can be even more dangerous.
The role of La Niña
El Niño and La Niña are the somewhat infamous sea-surface warming and cooling temperatures in the equatorial Pacific Ocean. They affect weather patterns in the United States and beyond. Although they exist in the Pacific Ocean, they can shift weather patterns and influence winds in the Atlantic Basin during hurricane season. As of early spring this year, a La Niña was fading.
No NOAA predictions yet
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has yet to release its predictions. NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center (CPC) announced that its team will use averages between 1991 and 2020 as its new 30-year period of record.
The updated official averages for the Atlantic hurricane season have increased to 14 named storms and seven hurricanes. The averages for the Eastern Pacific and Central Pacific basins during the years 1991 to 2020 period have not changed. NOAA will issue its seasonal predictions for the 2021 Atlantic hurricane season in late May.