NOAA bumps up hurricane predictions, calls for 65% chance of above-normal season

Tracking the Tropics
NOAA GOES-East satellite image of Hurricane Elsa as it moves up Florida’s west coast on July 6, 2021. (NOAA)

NOAA GOES-East satellite image of Hurricane Elsa as it moves up Florida’s west coast on July 6, 2021. (NOAA)

(KLFY) — The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has issued their mid-season update for the 2021 Atlantic Hurricane Season, and the agency says there is a 65% chance the season will be classified as “above-normal.”

The agency believes the Atlantic will see 15 to 21 named storms, with 7 to 10 of those becoming actual hurricanes. Anywhere between three and five of those hurricanes are expected to be Category 3 or stronger (at least 111 mph winds).

The updated 2021 Atlantic hurricane season probability and numbers of named storms. (NOAA)

“After a record-setting start, the Atlantic 2021 hurricane season does not show any signs of relenting as it enters the peak months ahead,” said Rick Spinrad, Ph.D., NOAA administrator. “NOAA will continue to provide the science and services that are foundational to keeping communities prepared for any threatening storm.”

NOAA scientists predict that the likelihood of an above-normal 2021 Atlantic hurricane season is 65%. There is a 25% chance of a near-normal season and a 10% chance of a below-normal season.

“A mix of competing oceanic and atmospheric conditions generally favor above-average activity for the remainder of the Atlantic hurricane season, including the potential return of La Nina in the months ahead,” said Matthew Rosencrans, lead seasonal hurricane forecaster at NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center. 

There have already been five hurricanes in the season so far, with Hurricane Elsa being the earliest 5th named storm on record.

Atlantic sea surface temperatures are not expected to be as warm as they were during the record-breaking 2020 season. At the same time, reduced vertical wind shear and an enhanced west Africa monsoon are all contributing to a possible increase in seasonal hurricane activity. These conditions are set against the backdrop of the ongoing warm phase of the Atlantic Multi-Decadal Oscillation, which has been favoring more active hurricane seasons since 1995. 

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