NOAA forecasts busy & powerful Atlantic hurricane season

by Kate Evans

Hold onto your hats and keep your eyes on the skies when it comes to this year’s Atlantic hurricane season, which could be more active and powerful than usual, according to NOAA officials.

In a May 23 press release, NOAA National Weather Service forecasters predicted an 85% chance of an above-normal Atlantic hurricane season, a 10% chance of a near-normal season and a 5% chance of a below-normal season.  The Atlantic hurricane season runs from June 1 through November 30.

“NOAA is forecasting a range of 17 to 25 total named storms (winds of 39 miles per hour or higher).  Of these, 8 to 13 are forecast to become hurricanes (winds of 74 miles per hour or higher), including 4 to 7 major hurricanes (category 3, 4 or 5; with winds of 111 miles per hour or higher).  Forecasters have a 70% confidence in these ranges,” according to the NOAA press release.

Factors in the expected above-normal Atlantic hurricane activity in this season include near-record warm ocean temperatures in the Atlantic Ocean, La Nina conditions in the Pacific Ocean, decreased Atlantic trade winds and less wind shear, which all encourage tropical storm formation, NOAA officials said.

As another active hurricane season looms and severe storms are bringing tornadoes, hail and flooding to some areas, NOAA’s mission is to keep everyone informed as to the formation and track of impending storms and hurricanes so families and individuals can be better prepared.

NOAA has implemented forecast communications improvements, done operational system upgrades, upgraded coastal weather buoys and added new tools for hurricane analysis and forecasting to better serve the public.

Families are urged to ascertain the threat of severe weather to their immediate area and to always have plenty of emergency supplies on hand.

NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center will update the 2024 Atlantic hurricane seasonal outlook in early August, just before the historical peak of the hurricane season.