The last hurricane to cause major, widespread damage to Florida’s citrus industry was Irma five years ago, in September 2017. But growers should stay on alert this year, because Colorado State University (CSU) researchers are predicting an active Atlantic hurricane season in 2022.
The CSU Tropical Meteorology Project team is predicting 19 named storms during the Atlantic hurricane season, which runs from June 1 to Nov. 30. Of those, researchers expect nine to become hurricanes and four to reach major hurricane strength (Category 3, 4 or 5) with sustained winds of 111 miles per hour or greater.
The team cited the likely absence of El Niño as a primary factor in its projection. Tropical Atlantic sea surface temperatures are near their long-term averages, while Caribbean and subtropical Atlantic sea surface temperatures are warmer than their long-term averages. The warmer Caribbean and eastern part of the subtropical Atlantic also favor an active 2022 season.
The team predicts that 2022 hurricane activity will be about 130% of the average season from 1991 to 2020. By comparison, 2021’s hurricane activity was about 120% of the average season. The 2021 hurricane season had eight continental U.S. named storms and two continental U.S. landfalling hurricanes, including Category 4 Hurricane Ida which battered the central Gulf Coast and then brought devastating flooding to the mid-Atlantic and northeastern United States.
The report also includes the probability of major hurricanes making landfall:
- 71% for the entire U.S. coastline (average for the last century is 52%)
- 47% for the U.S. East Coast including the Florida peninsula (average for the last century is 31%)
- 46% for the Gulf Coast from the Florida panhandle westward to Brownsville (average for the last century is 30%)
The CSU team will issue forecast updates on June 2, July 7 and Aug. 4.
Source: Colorado State University
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