- Overall, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said 13 to 20 named storms will develop.
- Forecasts include storms that spin up in the Atlantic Ocean, the Caribbean Sea and Gulf of Mexico.
- The season begins June 1 and runs through Nov. 30.
The federal government expects another active Atlantic hurricane season in 2021, with six to 10 hurricanes forming, forecasters said Thursday.
The season begins June 1 and runs through Nov. 30. An average season typically spawns seven hurricanes and peaks in August and September. If predictions hold true, it will be a record sixth consecutive year of above-normal activity.
Overall, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said 13 to 20 named storms will develop. This number includes tropical storms, which contain wind speeds of 39 mph or higher. Storms become hurricanes when winds reach 74 mph.
Of the predicted hurricanes, three to five could be major, packing wind speeds of 111 mph or higher.
“Predicted warmer-than-average sea-surface temperatures in the tropical Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean Sea, weaker tropical Atlantic trade winds and an enhanced West African monsoon will likely be factors in this year’s overall activity,” said Matthew Rosencrans, lead seasonal hurricane forecaster at NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center.
The El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO) conditions are in the neutral phase, and La Niña could return later in the hurricane season. “ENSO-neutral and La Niña support the conditions associated with the ongoing high-activity era,” Rosencrans said.
El Niño, a natural warming of ocean water in the tropical Pacific Ocean, tends to suppress Atlantic hurricane activity. It’s opposite, La Niña, a cooling of that same water, usually boosts the number of hurricanes in the Atlantic.
Forecasts include storms that spin up in the Atlantic Ocean, the Caribbean Sea and Gulf of Mexico.
Last year, NOAA predicted 13 to 19 named tropical storms would spin up, of which six to 10 would be hurricanes. In all, a record 30 named storms formed, including 14 hurricanes, of which seven were major hurricanes.
Last season: ‘Crazy’ 2020 hurricane season matches 2005 in activity, but not storm intensity
NOAA’s forecast follows several this spring that also called for a more active hurricane season.
Last month, meteorologists at Colorado State University predicted 17 tropical storms will form, eight of which will become hurricanes. In the 1980s, Colorado State University meteorologist William Gray was the first scientist to make seasonal hurricane forecasts.
The Weather Channel and AccuWeather also predicted a busier than usual hurricane season.
Forecasters released their prediction for the eastern Pacific basin, where 12 to 18 named storms are expected. An average eastern Pacific hurricane season produces 15 named storms.
Eastern Pacific storms and hurricanes primarily stay out to sea and seldom affect the U.S. mainland, although some storms hit the west coast of Mexico. Remnant moisture from the storms can dump heavy rain on the U.S. Southwest, leading to flooding.
A look at last year: Record-shattering 2020 Atlantic hurricane season officially comes to an end