Atlantic Hurricane Season Averages
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Climate Prediction Center is now using data from the 1991-2020 Atlantic hurricane seasons to determine what is average for the Atlantic Basin. Prior to this year, they were using data from 1981-2010. Based on the data from those years, on average there were 12 named storms, 6 hurricanes and 3 major (Category 3 or above) hurricanes.
Based on data from 1991-2020, there is an average of 14 named storms, 7 hurricanes and 3 major hurricanes. While the average number of major hurricanes did not change, NOAA did increase the average number of named storms and hurricanes. By using more current data, NOAA is able to have more relevant statistics to use for the upcoming 2021 Atlantic hurricane season.
But, why the increase in averages? In the past five years alone, we have seen above average hurricane seasons in the Atlantic, compared to the data from 1981-2010. In 2016, there were 15 named storms, 7 hurricanes and 3 major hurricanes. 2017 had 17 named storms, 10 hurricanes and 6 major hurricanes. The 2018 Atlantic hurricane season had 15 named storms, 8 hurricanes and two major hurricanes.
In 2019, there were 18 named storms, 6 hurricanes and 3 major hurricanes. And who could forget about the record breaking 2020 season. In total, there were 30 named storms and 13 hurricanes, which 6 of them became major hurricanes. The 2020 Atlantic hurricane season had the most named storms on record. It surpassed the 2005 record of 28.
NOAA’s researchers have attributed the increase in averages to multiple factors. One explanation involves the improvement in observing platforms, like NOAA’s fleet of next generation environmental satellites. And there are other factors brought on by climate change, like the warming ocean and atmosphere. NOAA’s researchers have decided that climate change can influence storm intensity, but they need to conduct more research on this topic for more conclusive results.
While NOAA will release their initial 2021 hurricane season outlook in late May, last week Colorado State University released theirs. They are forecasting another above average season—compared to the data from 1991-2020– but not as active as their forecast for the 2020 hurricane season. They are forecasting 17 named storms, 8 hurricanes and 4 major hurricanes.
The 2021 Atlantic hurricane season begins on June 1, 2021.
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