Above-normal hurricane season expected

A higher-than-normal number of hurricanes are expected to hit the Gulf Coast this summer and fall, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) predicted Thursday.

The leading federal weather organization said there is an 85 percent chance of an above-normal hurricane season — which runs from June 1 through the end of November — caused by high sea temperatures in the Atlantic and La Niña conditions in the Pacific.

“Severe weather and emergencies can happen at any moment, which is why individuals and communities need to be prepared today,” Federal Emergency Management Agency Deputy Administrator Erik Hooks said in a statement. “Already, we are seeing storms move across the country that can bring additional hazards like tornadoes, flooding and hail. Taking a proactive approach to our increasingly challenging climate landscape today can make a difference in how people can recover tomorrow.”

NOAA predicted between 17 and 25 named storms for the 2024 hurricane season, with 8 to 13 of those becoming hurricanes and four and seven being major hurricanes with winds of 111 mph or more.

This year saw one of the strongest El Niño climate patterns in the Pacific Ocean, leading to a likely quick transition to La Niña conditions, which can encourage hurricane development due to wind patterns.

Light trade winds and high wind shear in the Atlantic also encourages large circulating storm cells to form, creating tropical storms and hurricanes. Climate change also worsens potential storm impacts through rising sea levels and temperature, NOAA said.

The NOAA prediction comes after two of the largest academic hurricane predictors, the University of Pennsylvania and Colorado State University (CSU), both similarly predicted active hurricane seasons.

The Penn forecast predicted between 27 and 39 named tropical storms, with the best estimate at 33 storms — the most of any forecast in the 15-year history of the project. An average season usually has about half that number.

“We’ve seen many hyperactive seasons over the past decade, and in just about all cases, like our prediction for this year, the activity is substantially driven by ever-warmer conditions in the tropical Atlantic tied to large-scale warming,” professor Michael Mann, who leads the Penn forecast, said in a statement.

The CSU forecast calls for 23 named storms in 2024, significantly higher than the average of 14.

The CSU forecast warns Americans to “anticipate a well above-average probability for major hurricanes making landfall along the continental United States coastline and in the Caribbean.”

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