This is the time of year when meteorologists start predicting how many hurricanes we will experience in the Atlantic Basin. Frank Billingsley at Click2Houston.com issued his prediction for an above-average hurricane season Friday. He also predicts that other meteorologists will predict the same. Here’s why.
Official Averages Out of Date
The official window used to calculate the average number of storms has been 1981 to 2010. But when Brian McNoldy of the University of Miami looked at the more recent 30 years from 1991 to 2020, he found an increase in the number of storms. Also, AccuWeather has already come out with its prediction, showing a substantial increase.
|1981-2010 (Old Average)||12||6||3|
|1991-2020 (New Average)||14||7||3|
|2021 Predicted by AccuWeather||16 to 20||7 to 10||3 to 5|
Other Contributing Factors
Sea-surface temperatures are slightly above normal for this time of year. Despite the polar outbreak in February which cooled the Gulf somewhat, the Caribbean and Atlantic remain higher than average. See anomaly map below from NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center.
Billingsley’s prediction also takes into account La Niña, which is part of ENSO (El Niño Southern Oscillation).
NOAA describes El Niño and La Niña as the warm and cool phases of a recurring climate pattern across the tropical Pacific. The pattern can shift back and forth irregularly every two to seven years, and each phase triggers predictable disruptions of temperature, precipitation and winds.
The El Niño phase usually means fewer hurricanes in the Atlantic.
The La Niña phase usually means more hurricanes in The Atlantic.
Why? In short, the warm, wet air of El Niño in the tropical Pacific produces stronger vertical wind sheer which discourages hurricane formation in the Atlantic. The cool, dry air of La Niña produces less wind sheer which lets hurricanes form more easily.National Hurricane Center
The real question is: How long will La Niña last? La Niña was strong last year. That meant one of the busiest hurricane seasons ever. (See table above.) But will it fade by the start of this hurricane season or the end? The Texas Water Development Board predicted it would begin to fade after this month. But some models show it lasting through the end of the year.
AccuWeather predicts three to five hurricanes will make a direct hit on the United States this year. That’s partially due to another factor – the position of the Bermuda High. A weak Bermuda High means storms forming in the Atlantic would most likely aim at the Eastern Seaboard as opposed to coming into the Gulf.
Bottom line, “Be prepared. Anyone who has been through a hurricane can tell you it only takes one.”Frank Billingsley, Click2Houston.com
Valuable Resources During Hurricane Season
For the full AccuWeather forecast, click here.
Colorado State University’s hurricane forecast comes out next week. It’s one of the most respected in the world.
During the season, the National Hurricane Center provides the most frequent updates of storm activities. They will start issuing tropical updates on May 15. And their reports will have more features than ever this year. See the list of new features including storm surge inundation values, weather forecasts for “blue-water” mariners, wave heights, cumulative maximum winds over 5-days, and more.
Posted by Bob Rehak on 4/3/2021 based on information from Click2Houston, AccuWeather, and NOAA
1313 days since Hurricane Harvey