NOAA's 2021 hurricane season forecast sees another busy season in the tropics
NOAA is predicting another busy season in the tropics.
After a historically active hurricane season in 2020, NOAA joins the list of forecasters that are forecasting an above-average season for 2021.
The prediction is for 13 to 20 named storms, six to 10 of which are expected to become hurricanes. Of those, they expect 3-5 to strengthen into major hurricanes, which is a category 3 or higher.
When comparing these numbers to the newly calculated 30-year averages, the majority of the given ranges would be higher than normal.
The Pacific Ocean's El Nino conditions are currently in the neutral phase, with the possibility of the return of La Nina later in the year - both of which favor the formation of hurricanes. Cooler water in the eastern Pacific Ocean leads to a more stable atmosphere, and decreased wind shear moving east across Mexico and the southern U.S. and into the Caribbean. A high level of wind shear can tear hurricanes apart as they try to form.
Additionally, warmer-than-average sea surface temperatures in the tropical Atlantic and Caribbean Sea, weaker tropical Atlantic trade winds, and an enhanced west African monsoon are also predicted. Scientists at NOAA also continue to study how climate change is impacting the strength and frequency of tropical cyclones.
“Although NOAA scientists don’t expect this season to be as busy as last year, it only takes one storm to devastate a community,” said Ben Friedman, acting NOAA administrator. “The forecasters at the National Hurricane Center are well-prepared with significant upgrades to our computer models, emerging observation techniques, and the expertise to deliver the life-saving forecasts that we all depend on during this, and every, hurricane season.”
Additionally, we have now received our first named storm before the official beginning of hurricane season (June 1) for the seventh consecutive year when Subtropical Storm Ana formed on May 22.
While the hurricane forecast is above average, experts say that we are highly unlikely to come close to the record-smashing 30 named tropical systems from 2020.