National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration forecasters on Tuesday predicted a seventh consecutive above-average Atlantic hurricane season.
With the six-month season starting June 1, NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center forecast 14 to 21 named storms with sustained winds 39 mph or higher, of which six to 10 storms would reach hurricane strength with winds topping 74 mph.
Of the hurricanes three to six are forecast to be major systems with winds of 111 mph or higher. The above-average forecast is attributed to ongoing La Nina conditions, which can limit vertical wind shear in the atmosphere, warmer-than-average sea surface temperatures in the Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean Sea, weaker tropical Atlantic trade winds and an enhanced west African monsoon.
“An enhanced west African monsoon supports stronger African Easterly Waves, which seed many of the strongest and longest-lived hurricanes during most seasons,” a news release from the agency said.
Previously, Colorado State University researchers predicted 19 named storms, with nine growing into hurricanes. Four of the hurricanes could have winds topping 111 mph, under the university’s forecast. AccuWeather has predicted 16 to 20 named storms this year, with six to eight becoming hurricanes.
Four to six of the storms could directly impact the U.S., according to AccuWeather. Between 1991 and 2020, the Atlantic averaged 14.4 storms a season, with an average of 7.2 reaching hurricane status and an average of 3.2 categorized as major storms.
The past two hurricane seasons have exhausted lists of storm names, with a record 30 named storms in 2020 and 21 named systems in 2021.