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Hurricane Season Starts In Less Than Two Months. It Could Be Busy Again

sept 2020 noaa hurricanes.jpg
On a single day in September 2020, Hurricane Sally approached the U.S. Gulf Coast as Hurricane Paulette crossed the Atlantic while Tropical Storms Teddy and Vicky moved off the African coast.

AccuWeather is calling for another above average Atlantic hurricane season in 2021 — the sixth in a row.

The forecasting service said Monday it expects the Atlantic to stir up 16 to 20 named storms this year. Of those, seven to 10 could become hurricanes, with three to five blossoming into major hurricanes packing winds topping 111 mph.

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The prediction falls well short of the 30 named storms generated last year, which set a new record and forced forecasters to turn to the Greek alphabet for names. Twelve storms made landfall in the U.S., the most since 1916.

Hurricane seasons typically average 12 named storms, with six becoming hurricanes and three intensifying into major hurricanes.

However, those numbers are beginning to shift as climate change warms the atmosphere and leads to more intense storms. Another weather pattern that affects air temperature and rainfall, which can then influence sea surface temperatures, has been in a warm phase since the early 1990s. That pattern, called the Atlantic Multidecadal Variability, also coincides with busier storm seasons.

AccuWeather bases its forecast on weather patterns and long-range climate models. In a statement, forecasters said they expect a cooler La Niña weather pattern to end by late spring or early summer. That could clear the way for a warmer El Niño pattern, which can produce weaker upper atmospheric winds. Stronger winds help tamp down hurricanes.

On Thursday, Colorado State University, which has been issuing pre-season forecasts for nearly 40 years based on historical data, is scheduled to release its forecast.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration usually releases the government's forecast in May, just before the season officially begins June 1.