Another “extremely active hurricane season” forecast

Buckle up.

With the 2024 Atlantic hurricane season starting in less than 10 days, the nation’s top weather agency on Thursday released its most pessimistic forecast to date, giving this year an 85% chance of having an unusually high number of tropical storms and hurricanes.

Forecasters at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration cited several factors, including near-record warm ocean temperatures, the emergence of La Niña in the eastern Pacific tropical waters, reduced Atlantic trade winds and less wind shear.

NOAA has a 70% confidence that the Atlantic hurricane region, which includes the North Atlantic Ocean, Caribbean Sea, and Gulf of Mexico, could see 17 to 25 named storms. Such storms boast winds of 39 mph or stronger. Of those named storms, eight to 13 are forecast to become hurricanes, which have winds of 74 mph or higher.

“Of note, the forecast for named storms, hurricanes and major hurricanes is the highest NOAA has ever issued for the May outlook,” agency administrator Rick Spinrad said.

The number of hurricanes also could include four to seven major hurricanes, which reach at least Category 3 status with damaging winds of 111 mph or stronger.

These forecast figures apply to the whole North Atlantic, not just Texas and the Gulf of Mexico, because we can’t yet precisely predict where hurricanes will form or make landfall.

On average, the Atlantic hurricane region records 14 named storms, seven hurricanes and three major hurricanes with winds of 111 mph or higher.

This is a slight uptick from the Colorado State forecast from April. It’s hardly a surprise, given the super warm Atlantic Ocean waters and the La Niña conditions, but that doesn’t make it any less scary. I hope we’ve actually recovered from the recent derecho before the first storm gets organized, regardless of where it goes. Here’s the NOAA press release, and The Eyewall has more.

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