NOAA releases updated Atlantic hurricane season outlook

The mid-season update calls for slightly more storms than the original outlook from the beginning of the season.

By: Tim Studebaker

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PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WLNE) – The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, or NOAA, has adjusted their outlook for the 2021 Atlantic hurricane season.  The new outlook, released Wednesday, calls for a slight increase in the expected number of storms compared to their original seasonal outlook, which was released back in May.  It’s been a busy start to the season.

Matthew Rosencrans is the Hurricane Season Outlook Lead with NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center.  Rosencrans says, “Normally in June and July, we only have two named storms.  We’ve had five this year.  So we’re already ahead of the pace.”

Hurricane season runs from June through November, and peaks from August to October.  In their initial outlook at the start of the season, they predicted 13-20 named storms, 6-10 hurricanes, and 3-5 major hurricanes (category 3 or higher).  As we approach the peak of each hurricane season, NOAA re-evaluates conditions that drive or suppress hurricane formation like sea surface temperatures and atmospheric conditions.  Then, they use that information to release an updated outlook.

Rosencrans says, “This updated outlook accounts for the five named storms, including one hurricane, that have already formed this season.”

Wednesday’s update calls for a slight increase over the original outlook: 15-21 named storms and 7-10 hurricanes, while the number of major hurricanes remains the same at 3-5.   Forecasters are closely watching for cooler than average sea surface temperatures in the Pacific, called la Niña, which could increase storm activity in the Atlantic near the end of the season.

Rosencrans says, “Given the increase in the predicted number of named storms and hurricanes, there is now a 65% chance for an above normal season.”

That would make 2021 the 6th consecutive above normal season in what’s been an active pattern.

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