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NOAA expects 'extraordinary' 2024 Atlantic hurricane season

If the forecast holds true, it could be one of the busiest Atlantic hurricane seasons ever.
Tropical Weather Florida
Posted at 10:10 AM, May 23, 2024

Government forecasters issued one of the most concerning Atlantic hurricane forecasts on record. National Weather Service forecasters at the Climate Prediction Center said Thursday that there is an 85% chance of an above-average 2024 Atlantic hurricane season, compared to a 5% chance that it will be below normal.

Government forecasters expect 17 to 25 systems will become at least tropical storms in 2024, with eight to 13 hurricanes and four to seven major hurricanes. If the forecast holds true, 2024 could be one of the busiest Atlantic hurricane seasons ever. The record for tropical storms and hurricanes in a year was 30 in 2020. Of those 30 systems, 14 were hurricanes and seven were major hurricanes.

"This [hurricane] season is looking to be an extraordinary one," said Rick Spinrad, administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

In 2005, there were 28 tropical storms, 15 hurricanes and seven major hurricanes. The third-busiest Atlantic hurricane season was 2021, with 21 named storms, seven hurricanes and four major hurricanes.

Receding storm waters surround homes in Keaton Beach, Fla., following the passage of Hurricane Idalia

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Although the official forecast would not result in a record year, this year's forecast marks the highest number of storms predicted in NOAA's official hurricane season forecast.

Forecasters say a likely La Niña pattern coupled with warm sea-surface temperatures would lead to an "extraordinary" hurricane season. While ocean temperatures play a significant factor in storm development, reduced wind shear can also play a role. Forecasters say La Niña generally eases wind shear in the North Atlantic, making the environment more conducive for hurricanes.

"I've seen a lot of seasons where you'd have all the warm temperature, the ocean's warm, but you have a situation where you have too much shear, or you have a situation that the water is warm enough to provide that energy, but you don't get an active African monsoon. So you look at this forecast, what goes into this forecast, it's all coming together," said National Weather Service Director Ken Graham. "This is a situation that you combine factors. So it's not just one factor; everything has to come together to get a forecast like this."

Graham added that hurricane intensity should not be the only factor the public should look at. He noted that most hurricane-related deaths are caused by inland flooding. Having more tropical storms and hurricanes could increase the number of landfalls the U.S. encounters, officials warned.

According to NOAA data, North Atlantic ocean temperatures are well above average for May.