May 24, 2024 - News

NOAA forecasts busy Atlantic hurricane season

A map of the Atlantic ocean showing sea surface temperature anomalies as of May 7-21, 2024
Data: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration; Map: Erin Davis/Axios Visuals

The 2024 Atlantic hurricane season will feature an unprecedented combination of air and ocean conditions and is likely to be extremely active, according to the U.S. government's official seasonal outlook, released yesterday.

Why it matters: Hurricanes are nature's largest and most expensive storms, and the odds of a U.S. landfall during an above-average season may be generally higher this year.

  • "This season is looking to be an extraordinary one in a number of ways," Rick Spinrad, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration administrator, said in a press conference.

By the numbers: NOAA says there's an 85% chance of an above-normal season this year, with 17 to 25 named storms of tropical-storm intensity or greater, eight to 13 of which will become hurricanes, and four to seven major hurricanes of Category 3 or greater.

State of play: This is the most aggressive hurricane season outlook that NOAA has ever issued in May, Spinrad said.

  • The numbers are well above the 1991-2020 average of 14 named storms, seven hurricanes and three major hurricanes each season.

Threat level: This season will officially start on June 1 in unparalleled territory.

  • There are record to near-record warm ocean waters in every part of the Atlantic, from the Gulf of Mexico to the Caribbean.

What they're saying: "While seasonal hurricane forecasts can't tell us when or where a storm might strike, the record-warm waters through the Caribbean and Gulf combined with a potential La Niña does stack the deck in favor of development farther west in the Atlantic this year and potentially closer to land areas," Michael Lowry, a hurricane and storm surge specialist, tells Axios via email.

Yes, but: There are factors that could thwart nascent tropical storms and hurricanes even with extremely warm waters present.

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