Forecasters at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Climate Prediction Center, a division of the National Weather Service, are predicting above-average hurricane activity this year. The Atlantic hurricane season runs from June 1 to Nov. 30.
This year could be the seventh consecutive above-average hurricane season. NOAA predicts a 65% chance of an above-normal Atlantic hurricane season, a 25% chance of a near-normal season and a 10% chance of a below-normal season.
NOAA is forecasting a likely range of 14 to 21 named storms (winds of 39 mph or higher). Of those, six to 10 could become hurricanes (winds of 74 mph or higher), including three to six major hurricanes (category 3, 4 or 5; with winds of 111 mph or higher). NOAA provides these ranges with 70% confidence.
By comparison, the Colorado State University (CSU) Tropical Meteorology Project team in April predicted 19 named storms during the Atlantic hurricane season. CSU expected nine of those 19 storms to become hurricanes and four to reach major hurricane strength.
According to NOAA, the increased activity anticipated this hurricane season is attributed to several climate factors. Those factors are the ongoing La Niña that is likely to persist throughout the hurricane season, warmer-than-average sea surface temperatures in the Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean Sea, weaker tropical Atlantic trade winds and an enhanced west African monsoon. An enhanced west African monsoon supports stronger African easterly waves, which seed many of the strongest and longest-lived hurricanes during most seasons.
NOAA’s outlook is for overall seasonal activity and is not a landfall forecast. In addition to the Atlantic seasonal outlook, NOAA has also issued seasonal hurricane outlooks for the eastern Pacific and central Pacific hurricane basins. NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center will update the 2022 Atlantic seasonal outlook in early August, just prior to the historical peak of the season.