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NOAA Expects Above Avg. 2021 Hurricane Season

20 May 2021, 4:00 pm

The 2020 Atlantic Hurricane Season was one for the record books. Building on lessons learned from last year, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has turned their focus to 2021 and released their forecast on what to expect for the season. In combination with scientists at the Climate Prediction Center (CPC) and the National Hurricane Center (NHC), they expect this year to be an active season for the number of tropical cyclones.

Compared to an “average” season where there are 14 named storms, 7 of which become hurricanes, and 3 of those which become major hurricanes (category 3 or higher), this season’s outlook calls for a above normal season with 13-20 named storms,  6-10 of which will become hurricanes, and 3-5 of which could become major hurricanes.

Forecasters predict a 60% chance of an above-normal season, a 30% chance of a near-normal season, and a 10% chance of a below-normal season. However, experts do not anticipate the historic level of storm activity seen in 2020.

The main factor contributing to the outlook is the lack of El Niño. Last year saw a predominant La Niña pattern, which reduced wind shear, favoring Atlantic tropical development. While the La Niña has officially ended, without El Niño conditions to suppress development, the Atlantic could remain active. El Nino Southern Oscillation (ENSO) conditions are currently in the neutral phase, with the possibility of the return of La Nina later in the hurricane season.

“ENSO-neutral and La Nina support the conditions associated with the ongoing high-activity era,” said Matthew Rosencrans, lead seasonal hurricane forecaster at NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center. “Predicted warmer-than-average sea surface temperatures in the tropical Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean Sea, weaker tropical Atlantic trade winds, and an enhanced west African monsoon will likely be factors in this year’s overall activity.”

Regardless of the forecast, NOAA and WeatherNation want to remind you that “it only takes one”.  No matter what the forecast calls for, it is so important to be prepared for the season ahead. Even if just one storm makes landfall where you are it will be “a bad season” for you. Always take steps to prepare for the worst case scenario.



NOAA, NWS Honolulu and the Central Pacific Hurricane Center have also posted their hurricane outlook for the central Pacific basin. They are predicting that this hurricane season will be near or below normal with the amount of Tropical Cyclones to develop, with 2-5 anticipated. An “average” season has 4 or 5 tropical cyclones.

“This year we will likely see less activity in the Central Pacific region compared to more active seasons,” said Matthew Rosencrans, NOAA’s lead seasonal hurricane forecaster at the Climate Prediction Center. “Less activity is predicted since ocean temperatures are likely to be near- to below average in the central and eastern tropical Pacific Ocean where hurricanes form, and because El Nino is not present to increase the activity.”

For more information on Hawaii’s wet and dry season and how to be prepared for this hurricane season, you can follow this link to the NWS Honolulu and CPHC Facebook page.

“As we have experienced in previous hurricane seasons, it only takes one direct hit, or even a close call, to have a major impact on daily life here in the Hawaiian Islands,” said Chris Brenchley, director of NOAA’s Central Pacific Hurricane Center. “Take time to prepare now.  Make a preparedness plan so that you and your family stay healthy and safe.”

About the author
Karissa is the Director of On-Air Operations at WeatherNation. Karissa grew up loving math and science, but really fell in love with Meteorology while attending the College of DuPage in Glen Ellyn, Illinois. After two summers of storm chasing in the central plains, she knew that it was the career path for her. Standing in front of a thunderstorm and feeling the cool outflow knock her over was an e... Load Morexperience she will never forget. After two years at COD, she transferred to Metropolitan State University of Denver. Karissa graduated Magna Cum Laude with a Bachelors of Science in Meteorology. Her high school and college speech and meteorology professors were extremely supportive and pushed her to succeed. Before joining the WeatherNation team, she previously worked as the Morning Meteorologist at KCAU-TV in Sioux City, Iowa and at WMBD-TV in Peoria, IL. She recently was part of a National Edward R. Murrow award winning team for breaking news for their coverage of the EF-4 tornado in Washington, Illinois. In her free time, Karissa enjoys cooking and trying new foods. She is a self proclaimed 'TV Junkie' who can get into just about any show. She is a die hard Chicago sports fan who loves attending professional sporting events.

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