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NOAA Predicts “Extremely Active” Hurricane Season Ahead

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Climate Prediction Center

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Climate Prediction Center released an updated Atlantic hurricane season forecast, Thursday, calling for an “extremely active” season in the months ahead.

The updated forecast calls for 19 to 25 named storms (winds of 39 mph or greater), including seven to 11 hurricanes (winds of 74 mph or greater) and three to six major hurricanes of Category 3 strength or higher (winds of 111 mph or greater).

Already this season has seen nine named storms, including Hanna and Isaias, which reached hurricane strength. A NOAA media release states, “This is one of the most active seasonal forecasts that NOAA has produced in its 22-year history of hurricane outlooks.”

Thursday’s revised storm season prediction from NOAA is similar to one released, Tuesday by forecasters with Colorado State University, who are calling for 24 named storms this season including five of at least category three strength. Colorado State University has never before predicted that level of storm activity in its 36-year history of providing storm season forecasts.

Meteorologist and Director of the Florida Public Radio Emergency Network Jeff Huffman said forecaster confidence is high. “NOAA’s giving it an 85% chance of it being an above normal season. Normal seasons have between ten and 12 (named storms). We’re already at nine. So, that’s a pretty easy slam dunk of a forecast,” said Huffman.

“But the concern is that there will be long-lived extremely dangerous storms this year, possibly major hurricanes and those numbers are expected to be above average as well.”

He notes that what is typically the busiest part of the Atlantic storm season still lies ahead. “Nearly 80% of all tropical cyclones form after August 15, so that’s right around the corner,” said Huffman.

Nearly all factors meteorologists consider when forming these forecasts are favorable for storm development including above normal ocean temperatures and lower trade winds from the Atlantic. Huffman says there is also a weak La Niña attempting to develop in the Pacific.

“That basically means lower wind shear, and that’s already evident across the Caribbean and the Atlantic,” said Huffman.

“Numbers are already below normal in terms of wind shear. Those are the strong winds aloft that can rip apart tropical cyclones.”

Satellite imagery also suggests the monsoon in West Africa is highly active as well. “That’s where a lot of the tropical waves come from. That’s where the birthplace of hurricanes are. It’s those waves that move off the west coast of Africa into those very warm waters of the Atlantic,” said Huffman.

Due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, emergency managers are urging Floridians to consider sheltering at home if they’re not under a mandatory evacuation order and as long as they’re confident their homes can withstand projected wind speeds.

Huffman urges Floridians to learn more about the structural integrity of their homes and local building codes by visiting the Florida Division of Emergency Management or the Federal Alliance for Safe Homes.

Hurricane season began June 1 and runs through Nov. 30.