NOAA forecasts a busy Atlantic hurricane season for 7th straight year

Alonzo Lewis rescues items from his mother’s home after it was destroyed by Hurricane Ida on August 30, 2021 in Laplace, Louisiana. Ida made landfall August 29 as a category 4 storm southwest of New Orleans.

Scott Olson | Getty Images News | Getty Images

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration on Tuesday forecast a busy Atlantic hurricane season this year, calling for the seventh straight above-average season with 14 to 21 named storms and six to 10 hurricanes.

The Atlantic season, which extends from June 1 to November 30, has experienced a growing number of destructive and rapidly intensifying hurricanes over the past several decades, which scientists have linked to higher ocean temperatures from human-caused climate change.

This year, the agency predicted there will be three to six major hurricanes, which are rated Category 3 or higher with sustained winds of at least 111 miles per hour.

NOAA attributed the expected increased activity this season to climate factors including the ongoing La Niña, warmer than average sea surface temperatures in the Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean Sea, and weaker tropical Atlantic trade winds.

“Early preparation and understanding your risk is key to being hurricane resilient and climate-ready,” said Gina M. Raimondo, secretary of the Commerce Department, which oversees NOAA.

Hurricane season is becoming longer and more intense as climate change triggers more frequent and destructive storms. Rising temperatures are also increasing the number of storms that move slowly and stall along the coast, a phenomenon that produces heavier rainfall and more dangerous storm surges.

The agency’s scientists predicted a 65% chance of an above-normal season, a 25% chance of a near-normal season and a 10% chance of a below-normal season. An average season has 12 named storms and six hurricanes.

NOAA’s forecast follows a string of damaging hurricane seasons. The 2021 season saw 21 named storms, the third most on record, and exhausted the National Hurricane Center’s hurricane name list. And in 2020, a record-breaking 30 named storms developed.

The U.S. has seen more Category 4 and 5 hurricanes make landfall between 2017 and 2021 than between 1963 and 2016.

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