More Storms in ‘Average’ Hurricane Season

Ernie Neffhurricane, Weather

hurricane season
Photo by NASA on Unsplash

The U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) will issue its initial seasonal outlook for the 2021 hurricane season in late May. The Atlantic hurricane season officially runs from June 1 through Nov. 30.

Beginning with this year’s hurricane season outlooks, NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center (CPC) will use 1991-2020 as the new 30-year period of record. The updated averages for the Atlantic hurricane season have increased with 14 named storms and 7 hurricanes. The average for major hurricanes (Category 3, 4 or 5) remains unchanged at 3.

The previous Atlantic storm averages, based on the period from 1981 to 2010, were 12 named storms, 6 hurricanes and 3 major hurricanes.

NOAA is updating the set of statistics used to determine when seasons are above-, near-, or below-average relative to the climate record. This update process occurs once every decade.  

“This update allows our meteorologists to make forecasts for the hurricane season with the most relevant climate statistics taken into consideration,” said Michael Farrar, director of NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Prediction.

The increase in the averages may be attributed to the overall improvement in observing platforms, including NOAA’s fleet of next-generation environmental satellites and continued hurricane reconnaissance. It may also be due to the warming ocean and atmosphere, which are influenced by climate change. The update also reflects a very busy period over the last 30 years, which includes many years of a positive Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation, which can increase Atlantic hurricane activity. 

“These updated averages better reflect our collective experience of the past 10 years, which included some very active hurricane seasons,” said Matt Rosencrans, seasonal hurricane forecaster at NOAA’s CPC.

For the Eastern Pacific and Central Pacific basins, the averages over the 1991-2020 period do not change. The Eastern Pacific basin will remain at 15 named storms, 8 hurricanes and 4 major hurricanes. The Central Pacific basin will maintain an average of 4 named storms, 3 hurricanes and 2 major hurricanes.

Learn about a Citrus Producers Guide that University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences experts co-authored in 2020. The guide provides recommendations for building resilience to hurricanes in citrus groves.

Source: U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

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