April 7, 2022 Sea Surface Temperatures

Get Ready for Above-Average Hurricane Season

Researchers at Colorado State University indicate that we should get ready for an above average hurricane season in 2022.

They say Texas in particular has the following chances of a named storm, hurricane or major hurricane tracking within 50 miles of the coast this year:

  • 80% for a named storm
  • 54% for a hurricane
  • 25% for a major hurricane.

They based their estimates on a variety of different atmospheric and ocean measurements, which are known to have high statistical relationships with tropical cyclone activity dating back decades. Among the main predictors: sea surface temps and the stage of the El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO).

Regional Forecast

The probability for at least one major hurricane (category 3, 4 or 5) making landfall somewhere along the:

  1. Entire continental U.S. coastline – 71% (average for last century is 52%)
  2. East Coast Including Florida Peninsula – 47% (average for last century is 31%)
  3. Gulf Coast from the Panhandle westward to Brownsville – 46% (average for last century is 30%).

The probability of a major hurricane tracking into the Caribbean this year is 60% (average for last century is 42%).

Atlantic Basin Forecast For Season Compared to Average

Overall, the Colorado State team forecasts 19 named storms, 9 hurricanes, and 4 major hurricanes somewhere in the Atlantic basin during the 2022 hurricane season.

In the 30 years from 1991 to 2020, the Atlantic Basin averaged 14.4 named storms, 7.2 hurricanes, and 3.2 major hurricanes.

Sea Surface Temperatures Warmer Than Normal in Caribbean and Gulf

One of the main factors influencing estimates is sea surface temperatures.

Variation from average sea surface temperatures yesterday. NOAA data.

The eastern and central tropical Atlantic currently have near average sea surface temperatures. However, the Caribbean and most of the subtropical Atlantic have warmer than normal temps. Warmer temps encourage tropical cyclone formation.

Weak La Niña Conditions Likely To Last Until Summer

Another major factor influencing estimates: the current state of ENSO.

The tropical Pacific is currently characterized by weak La Niña conditions. Researchers believe the tropical Pacific could return to neutral ENSO conditions by summer. But they also believe it highly unlikely that we will see a return to full-blown El Niño conditions this hurricane season, which extends from June 1, 2022, to November 30, 2022.

El Niño conditions in the Pacific can create wind shear that discourages tropical cyclone formation in the Atlantic.

Conversely, La Niña conditions reduce wind shear which encourage tropical formation in the Atlantic. The record breaking 2020 hurricane season which saw 30 named storms coincided with the onset of La Niña conditions. This story by NOAA describes the relationship between La Niña, El Niño, and the hurricane season. Cooler conditions in the central Pacific during a La Niña push the jet stream north which allows more hurricanes to form in the Atlantic. The following two NOAA diagrams describe the influences.

It only takes one storm making landfall near you to make a major change in your life. Now would be a good time to review flood insurance and think about preparations for what will likely be an above-average hurricane season.

Posted by Bob Rehak on 4/8/22 based on information provided by Colorado State University and NOAA

1683 Days since Hurricane Harvey