Hurricane forecast does not paint a cheery picture

As usual, Colorado State University issued its hurricane forecast first. Phil Klotzbach is calling for 17 named storms, eight hurricanes, and four major hurricanes. In 2020, the team called for 8 hurricanes but 13 developed. The university experts say it will be another above-normal hurricane season. 

The university’s research team also calculated the probability a major hurricane would hit Florida:

  • U.S. East Coast including peninsula Florida – 45% (average for last century is 31%)
  • Gulf Coast from the Florida Panhandle westward to Brownsville – 44% (average for last century is 30%)

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) will release its hurricane forecast at the end of May. 

But NOAA, has made a change to what it means to have an “average” hurricane season. The old average was derived from the number of named storms during the 30-year period between 1981 and 2010, or 12. The new average of named storms calculates the average between 1991 and 2020, or 14. 

NOAA’s new average reduces the number of hurricanes from seven to six, and major hurricanes (Category 3 or higher) stays the same at three. 

2021 will not be the year that the hurricane season begins two weeks early — May 15 instead of June 1. And no final decision has been made whether that will happen ever. However, beginning on May 15, NOAA will begin issuing normal tropical weather outlooks — two weeks earlier than usual. 

Last year was a phenomenally active hurricane season. There were 30 named storms, including 13 hurricanes and 6 major hurricanes .

In 2020, the World Meteorological Organization resorted to naming the “extra” nine tropical storms with letters from the Greek alphabet, such as Zeta. That won’t happen again, as officials said it was too confusing. Instead, officials have an extra 21 regular names set aside, just in case, ranging from Adria to Will. 

According to AccuWeather, Florida faces a heightened risk of hurricanes this year. That weather service said the Bermuda High is weakening, which may cause storms to curve north, instead of swing under Florida into the Gulf of Mexico. 

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Sara Matthis thinks community journalism is important, but not serious; likes weird and wonderful children (she has two); and occasionally tortures herself with sprint-distance triathlons, but only if she has a good chance of beating her sister.