The US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration predicts near-normal hurricane activity in the Atlantic this year, as the forecast El Niño and above-average Atlantic Ocean temperatures set the stage.
There is a 40% chance of a near-normal season, a 30% chance of an above-normal season and a 30% chance of a below-normal season, according to the Climate Prediction Center.
NOAA forecasts 12 to 17 total named storms. Of those, 5 to 9 could become hurricanes (winds of 119 kmh/74 mph or higher), including 1 to 4 major hurricanes (category 3, 4 or 5; with winds of 178 kmh/111 mph or higher). NOAA has a 70% confidence in these ranges.
The Atlantic hurricane season lasts from 1 June to 30 November.
It is expected to be less active than recent years, due to competing factors — some that suppress storm development and some that fuel it.
Early Warnings for All
It takes just one landfalling major hurricane to set back years of socio-economic development.
Statistics presented to the ongoing World Meteorological Congress showed how Small Island Developing States suffer disproportionately in terms of both economic impact and the human toll. For instance, Hurricane Maria in 2017 cost Dominica 800% of its Gross Domestic Product.
Between 1970 and 2021 tropical cyclones (the generic term which includes hurricanes) were the leading cause of both reported human and economic losses worldwide, accounting for more than 2 000 disasters.
However, the death toll more than 350,000 in the 1970s to less than 20,000 in 2010-2019. Reported economic losses in 2010-2019 were at 573.2 billion dollars.
“Tropical cyclones are major killers and a single storm can reverse years of socio-economic development. The death toll has fallen dramatically thanks to improvements in forecasting, warning and disaster risk reduction. But we can do even better,” said WMO Secretary-General Prof. Petteri Taalas.
“The UN Early Warnings for All initiative seeks to ensure that everyone has access to warnings of life-threatening winds, storm surge and rainfall in the next five years, especially in Small Island Developing States which are on the frontlines of climate change,” he said.
An average Atlantic hurricane season has 14 named storms, seven hurricanes and three major hurricanes.
In total, the 2022 Atlantic hurricane season produced 14 named storms, of which eight became hurricanes and two were major hurricanes (Ian and Fiona). Both 2020 and 2021 were so active that the regular list of rotating names was exhausted.
After three hurricane seasons with a La Niña, there is a high potential for El Nino to develop this summer, which can suppress Atlantic hurricane activity. El Nino’s potential influence on storm development could be offset by favorable conditions local to the tropical Atlantic Basin.
Those conditions include the potential for an above-normal west African monsoon, which produces African easterly waves and seeds some of the stronger and longer-lived Atlantic storms, and warmer-than-normal sea surface temperatures in the tropical Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean Sea which creates more energy to fuel storm development
“With a changing climate, the data and expertise NOAA provides to emergency managers and partners to support decision-making before, during and after a hurricane has never been more crucial,” said NOAA Administrator Rick Spinrad, Ph.D. “To that end, this year we are operationalizing a new hurricane forecast model and extending the tropical cyclone outlook graphic from five to seven days, which will provide emergency managers and communities with more time to prepare for storms.”
The US National Hurricane Center acts as WMO’s Regional Specialized Meteorological Centre Miami.