Prediction of up to 20 named storms
The Atlantic could face another hectic hurricane season, according to an early forecast.
Meteorologists at AccuWeather have forecast a busier than average season this year – but said it was unlikely the season will match the record-breaking 2020 season.
The advanced forecast estimated the Atlantic will experience between 16 and 20 named storms, including seven to ten hurricanes.
Of those hurricanes, between three and five are expected to reach Category 3 strength or greater.
Dan Kottlowski, senior meteorologist at AccuWeather, said: “Current indications are this will be another above-normal season.”
The average season over the past 30 years has featured 14 named storms, including seven hurricanes, of which three became major hurricanes.
Mr Kottlowski said higher than average water temperatures have already been recorded in the northern and central Gulf of Mexico, along with much of the Caribbean and tropical Atlantic.
While the hurricane season does not formally start until June 1, Mr Kottlowski said that based on current trends there was a higher-than-normal likelihood of a preseason storm.
He said: “Our biggest concern is the fact that water temperatures across the Atlantic are already warmer than normal over a larger part of the basin.”
Mr Kottlowski also said that forecast suggest the Bermuda High – a high pressure system that helps to shields Bermuda – is not expected to maintain its strength as much as it did last year.
However AccuWeather said the advanced forecast suggested that waters in the Pacific Ocean are expected to warm later this year, which could help to reduce hurricane development in the Atlantic.
Warm waters in the Pacific can create wind shear in the Atlantic – a phenomenon called El Niño – which stunts Atlantic hurricane growth
Colder waters in the Pacific however decrease wind shear – a phenomenon called La Niña – which encourages storm growth in the Atlantic.
While forecasts suggest that this year the conditions will move from La Niña to a neutral position, a question remains as to if conditions will revert later in the season.
Mr Kottlowski said: “If that happens, that could certainly increase the chance that we could see more than 20 storms.”
He urged those who live in hurricane-prone regions to begin to prepare for the upcoming season as even a single hurricane can have dire consequences.
The 2020 hurricane season was the busiest on record with a total of 30 named storms including 13 hurricanes and six major hurricanes.
Bermuda did not escape completely unscathed, as Hurricane Paulette made a direct hit on September 14, followed a week later by Hurricane Teddy, which brushed past the island.
Hurricane Epsilon threatened the island in October, but steered clear of the island, although it brought Bermuda high winds.
In December Colorado State University said in its first extended outlook of the 2021 hurricane season that there was a 25 per cent chance of an extremely active season, and a 35 per cent chance of an above average season.
The report found there was a 30 per cent chance of a near-average season and just a 10 per cent chance of a below average season.
CSU will release its forecast on Thursday.