Above-Average Hurricane Season Predicted

Ernie Neffhurricane


Colorado State University (CSU) researchers are predicting an above-average Atlantic hurricane season in 2021, citing the likely absence of El Niño as a primary factor.

Tropical Atlantic sea surface temperatures are near their long-term averages, while subtropical Atlantic sea surface temperatures are much warmer than their long-term average values. The warmer subtropical Atlantic also favors an active 2021 Atlantic hurricane season.

The CSU Tropical Meteorology Project team is predicting 17 named storms during the Atlantic hurricane season, which runs from June 1 to Nov. 30. Of those, researchers expect eight to become hurricanes and four to reach major hurricane strength (Saffir/Simpson Category 3, 4 or 5) with sustained winds of 111 miles per hour or greater.

The team bases its forecasts on a statistical model, as well as a model that uses a combination of statistical information and model output from the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts. These models use 40 years of historical seasons and evaluate an array of conditions.

So far, the 2021 hurricane season is exhibiting characteristics similar to 1996, 2001, 2008, 2011 and 2017. “All of our analog seasons had above-average Atlantic hurricane activity, with 1996 and 2017 being extremely active seasons,” said Phil Klotzbach, research scientist in the CSU Department of Atmospheric Science and lead author of the report.

The team predicts that 2021 hurricane activity will be about 140 percent of the average season. By comparison, 2020’s activity was about 170 percent of the average season. The 2020 season had six landfalling continental U.S. hurricanes.

The report also includes the probability of major hurricanes making landfall:

  • 69% for the entire U.S. coastline (average for the last century is 52%)
  • 45% for the U.S. East Coast, including the Florida peninsula (average for the last century is 31%)
  • 44% for the Gulf Coast from the Florida Panhandle westward to Brownsville, Texas (average for the last century is 30%)
  • 58% for the Caribbean (average for the last century is 42%)

The CSU team will issue forecast updates on June 3, July 8 and Aug. 5. This is the 38th year that the CSU hurricane research team has issued an Atlantic basin seasonal hurricane forecast.

Learn about the 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: Colorado State University


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