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NOAA predicts busy Atlantic hurricane season

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Credit: NOAA

Forecasters at the National Weather Service are predicting a busy Atlantic hurricane season this year amid near-record warm ocean temperatures and the development of La Nina conditions in the Pacific. Up to 25 named storms are expected.

The annual forecast, released just a week before the start of the 2024 Atlantic hurricane season, shows an 85% chance of an above-normal season, a 10% chance of a near-normal season and a 5% chance of a below-normal season.

Specifically, the Climate Prediction Center at the National Weather Service is expecting 17 to 25 named storms this year, of which 8 to 13 are forecast to become hurricanes, including 4 to 7 major hurricanes. Those are the highest numbers ever forecast by NOAA.

The Atlantic hurricane season runs from June 1 through November 30, with peak activity between August and October. An average season, based on data since 1981, produces fourteen named storms, with seven becoming hurricanes and three major hurricanes.

“The upcoming Atlantic hurricane season is expected to have above-normal activity due to a confluence of factors, including near-record warm ocean temperatures in the Atlantic Ocean, development of La Nina conditions in the Pacific, reduced Atlantic trade winds and less wind shear, all of which tend to favor tropical storm formation,” NOAA said in a statement.

While the forecast shows an extremely busy season, which could exhaust the annual list of 21 storm names, it does not imply it will also be a deadly season. Tropical storms and hurricanes can form in remote parts of the Atlantic without ever reaching land, or only after they have already weakened.

NOAA Administrator Rick Spinrad said the agency is also working on new ways to keep people informed, including AI-enabled language translations and a new depiction of inland wind threats in the forecast cone.

“Severe weather and emergencies can happen at any moment, which is why individuals and communities need to be prepared today,” FEMA Deputy Administrator Erik Hooks said. “Taking a proactive approach to our increasingly challenging climate landscape today can make a difference in how people can recover tomorrow.”

Last year was one of the most active seasons on record with 20 storms, including seven hurricanes, of which three became major hurricanes. But despite the high number of storms, only few of them made landfall, making it one of the least impactful seasons with 18 confirmed deaths.

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