Hold onto your butts: it’s looking like it’s going to be yet another aggressive Atlantic hurricane season. The latest forecasts are in, and everyone’s predicting above-average activity.
The NOAA released their outlook for the 2022 Atlantic hurricane season yesterday, predicting a 65 percent chance of an above-normal season, a 25 percent chance of a near-normal season, and just a 10 percent chance of a below-normal season.
This equates to 14 to 21 named storms with winds of 62.8 kilometers per hour (39 miles per hour) or higher. Of these, 6 to 10 could become hurricanes with winds of 119.1 kilometers per hour (74 miles per hour) or higher – including 3 to 6 major hurricanes of category 3, 4, or 5; with winds of 178.6 kilometers per hour (111 miles per hour) or higher.
Just as they previously speculated earlier this year, Colorado State University has also predicted a busy hurricane season, forecasting 19 named storms and 9 hurricanes, up from the 1991-2020 average of 14.4 named storms and 7.2 hurricanes.
If the predictions are on point, 2022 will see the seventh consecutive above-average hurricane season.
The Atlantic hurricane season officially runs from June through November, with activity generally peaking in September, when hurricanes and storms are especially common in the North Atlantic Ocean. Some hurricanes can make landfall and cause devastation in the Caribbean and southeastern US coastal states like Florida, Louisiana, Texas, North Carolina, and South Carolina.
There are a few reasons this period sees so many hurricanes, but the main driver is the difference that occurs between air temperatures and sea surface temperatures that builds up in the late summer.
The increased activity anticipated in 2022’s hurricane season is also attributable to the ongoing La Niña climate phenomenon.
La Niña refers to the cold phase when there are below-average sea surface temperatures across the east-central Pacific, while El Niño refers to the warm phase when the Pacific's warmest surface waters sit offshore of northwestern South America.
El Niño helps to strengthen hurricane activity in the central and eastern Pacific basins while suppressing it in the Atlantic basin. Since the odds of a significant El Niño seem unlikely, hurricane activity in the Atlantic ocean will be left largely unsuppressed, resulting in a busier Atlantic hurricane season.
Unfortunately, with this increased hurricane activity, we can expect to see more damage and destruction to parts of the east coast.
“As we reflect on another potentially busy hurricane season, past storms — such as Superstorm Sandy, which devastated the New York metro area ten years ago — remind us that the impact of one storm can be felt for years,” said Dr Rick Spinrad, NOAA Administrator.
“Early preparation and understanding your risk is key to being hurricane resilient and climate-ready,” added Secretary of Commerce Gina M Raimondo. “Throughout the hurricane season, NOAA experts will work around-the-clock to provide early and accurate forecasts and warnings that communities in the path of storms can depend on to stay informed.”