Wed | Jun 19, 2024

Atlantic hurricane season predicted to be ‘above average’

Ocean heat, La Nina combo likely means more hurricanes this summer

Published:Friday | May 24, 2024 | 12:10 AM
Bob Givehchi, right, and his son Daniel, 8, Toronto residents visiting Miami for the first time, walk past debris and palm trees blowing in gusty winds, at Matheson Hammock Park in Coral Gables, Fla, Dec 15, 2023. Nearly all the experts think 2024 will be
Bob Givehchi, right, and his son Daniel, 8, Toronto residents visiting Miami for the first time, walk past debris and palm trees blowing in gusty winds, at Matheson Hammock Park in Coral Gables, Fla, Dec 15, 2023. Nearly all the experts think 2024 will be one of the busiest Atlantic hurricane seasons on record.

WASHINGTON (AP):

Get ready for what nearly all the experts think will be one of the busiest Atlantic hurricane seasons on record, thanks to unprecedented ocean heat and a brewing La Nina.

There’s an 85 per cent chance that the Atlantic hurricane season that starts in June will be above average in storm activity, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announced Thursday in its annual outlook. The weather agency predicted between 17 and 25 named storms will brew up this summer and fall, with 8 to 13 achieving hurricane status (at least 75 mph sustained winds) and four to seven of them becoming major hurricanes, with at least 111 mph winds.

An average Atlantic hurricane season produces 14 named storms, seven of them hurricanes and three major hurricanes.

“This season is looking to be an extraordinary one in a number of ways,” NOAA Administrator Rick Spinrad said. He said this forecast is the busiest in the 25 years that NOAA has been issuing in May. The agency updates its forecasts each August.

About 20 other groups – universities, other governments, private weather companies – also have made seasonal forecasts. All but two expect a busier, nastier summer and fall for hurricanes. The average of those other forecasts is about 11 hurricanes, or about 50 per cent more than in a normal year.

“All the ingredients are definitely in place to have an active season,” National Weather Service Director Ken Graham said. “It’s a reason to be concerned, of course, but not alarmed.”

What people should be most concerned about is water because 90 per cent of hurricane deaths are in water and they are preventable, Graham said.

When meteorologists look at how busy a hurricane season is, two factors matter most: ocean temperatures in the Atlantic where storms spin up and need warm water for fuel, and whether there is a La Nina or El Nino, the natural and periodic cooling or warming of Pacific Ocean waters that changes weather patterns worldwide. A La Nina tends to turbocharge Atlantic storm activity while depressing storminess in the Pacific and an El Nino does the opposite.

“We’ve never had a La Nina combined with ocean temperatures this warm in recorded history so that’s a little ominous,” said University of Miami tropical meteorology researcher Brian McNoldy.