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Forecasts warn of ‘hyperactive’ hurricane season

Warm waters and the likely arrival of La Niña conditions this summer could lead to a “hyper active” hurricane season, say scientists (File photograph)

More meteorologists have raised red flags about a potentially devastating hurricane season in the Atlantic.

Multiple preseason forecasts released this month have warned that warm waters and the likely arrival of La Niña conditions this summer could lead to a “hyperactive” hurricane season.

However, The Weather Company has forecast a stronger than usual Bermuda-Azores High, which could help steer storms away from the island but lead to more landfalls elsewhere.

“In a complete flip compared to last season, a stronger high-pressure system is expected to set up shop near Bermuda and the Azores, which should deflect more storms westward towards the Caribbean and the United States,” the company stated.

“This combination of more storms and this pattern will lead to more storms nearing coastlines.”

The Weather Company outlook called for 24 named storms, including 11 hurricanes and six “major” hurricanes reaching at least Category 3 strength.

The Tropical Storm Risk meanwhile estimated that the Atlantic would record about 23 named storms including 11 hurricanes, five of which could reach or exceed Category 3 strength.

The forecast suggested storm activity around 70 per cent higher than the 30-year average.

TSR said in its forecast: “Although some uncertainties remain, we consider that the more likely scenario is for tropical North Atlantic and Caribbean Sea waters to be warmer than normal by August/September 2024, and for moderate La Niña conditions to develop and persist through August/September 2024 and into the autumn.

“These two factors are both expected to have a strong enhancing influence on the upcoming Atlantic hurricane season.”

The organisation said that there was high confidence that the Atlantic would remain warmer than usual, fuelling storm development.

“Sea surface temperatures across much of the Atlantic Ocean have been well above average for several months and there is currently no indication these sea surface temperature anomalies will cool significantly, if at all, over the spring,” the report said.

TSR added that there was “high confidence” in a weak to moderate La Niña, which would result in weaker trade winds through the summer.

“Trade wind speed is weaker than normal when La Niña conditions are in place and Caribbean Sea surface temperatures are warmer than normal,” the report said.

“We have good confidence both factors will be present through peak hurricane season in August and September.”

2024 Hurricane Names

The names of storms for this year’s hurricane season will largely match that of the 2018 season, except for the replacement of Florence and Michael.

Florence was replaced with Francine, while Michael was replaced by Milton.

This year’s names are: Alberto, Beryl, Chris, Debby, Ernesto, Francine, Gordon, Helene, Isaac, Joyce, Kirk, Leslie, Milton, Nadine, Oscar, Patty, Rafael, Sara, Tony, Valerie and William.

Any additional storms would have their names selected from a supplemental list.

TSR had previously issued an advanced forecast for the 2024 season, suggesting 20 named storms, including nine hurricanes and four major hurricanes.

North Carolina State University also forecast a busier than average season, although they did not predict as active a season as TSR.

NCSU researchers forecast that between 15 and 20 named storms would form in the Atlantic, including ten to 11 hurricanes, of which three to four would become major hurricanes.

Lian Xie, professor of marine, earth and atmospheric sciences at NC State University, estimated that the Gulf of Mexico in particular would see increased activity with five to seven storms forming in the region.

The NCSU forecast was based on historical data on Atlantic Ocean hurricane positions and intensity, as well as other variables, including weather patterns and sea-surface temperatures to predict how many storms will form in each ocean basin.

Colorado State University also recently released its forecast for an “extremely active” 2024 hurricane season, citing the same factors as TSR.

The CSU forecast 23 named storms, including 11 hurricanes, five of which could become major hurricanes.

Other bodies including AccuWeather, the University of Arizona and Météo-France have similarly forecast a busier-than-average year in advanced forecasts.

The Atlantic hurricane season runs from June 1 through November 30.

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Published April 24, 2024 at 7:52 am (Updated April 24, 2024 at 7:28 am)

Forecasts warn of ‘hyperactive’ hurricane season

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