Energy & Environment

NOAA predicts above-normal 2022 Atlantic hurricane season

FILE – This satellite image provided by the NOAA shows five tropical storms churning in the Atlantic basin on Monday, Sept. 14, 2020. The storms, from left, are Hurricane Sally over the Gulf of Mexico, Hurricane Paulette over Bermuda, the remnants of Tropical Storm Rene, and Tropical Storms Teddy and Vicky. A NOAA study released on Wednesday, May 11, 2022 says cleaner air in Europe and the United States is helping trigger a dramatic increase in the number of Atlantic hurricanes. (NOAA via AP)

Hurricane activity in 2022 is projected to be above average for the seventh year in a row, according to a forecast released Tuesday by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). 

Between June 1 and Nov. 30, 14 to 21 named storms are likely, and as many as 10 could become full hurricanes (storms with winds of at least 74 miles per hour) according to NOAA’s forecast.

Of these, three to six could qualify as “major” hurricanes, or those reaching category 3, 4 or 5, with winds of at least 111 mph. Typical seasons have about 14 named storms, 7 hurricanes and three major hurricanes. 

Overall, the NOAA estimated a 65 percent chance the season will be above-normal, versus a 25 percent chance of about normal conditions and a 10 percent chance of a below-normal season. 

NOAA attributed the increased likelihood to a number of weather patterns, particularly an ongoing Pacific La Nina, a phenomenon that lowers sea surface temperatures and is likely to last for the rest of the season. In addition, there are above-average temperatures in the Caribbean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean.

Meanwhile, a stronger west African monsoon and weaker-than-usual tropical Atlantic trade winds are also likely to create better conditions for storms, according to NOAA. Weaker winds reduce wind shear, or the meteorological force that pulls gathering storms apart and reduces their strength before they make landfall. 

Another potential compounding factor has been observed in the Gulf of Mexico, where waters may reach record warmth by the peak of the season, particularly if the southeastern U.S. sees elevated temperatures. While a hurricane entering warm shallows often churns up deeper, colder water and weakens the storm, hurricanes passing through deeper, warmer water can make the storm more intense, according to research from Yale Climate Connections

The forecast comes after two consecutive seasons that exhausted a prepared list of 21 storm names, a point no previous season had reached.  

Tags Atlantic ocean Climate change hurricane season hurricanes la niña NOAA Pacific Ocean

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