According to a recent report by NOAA (North Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) Climate Prediction Center, the 2021 Atlantic hurricane season is, yet again, expected to be pretty busy.
NOAA predicts (opens in a new tab) that this season, storm activity will exceed the “normal season” with a 60% probability, and assigned only a mere 10% probability to a “below-normal” season occurring. On the bright side, this season is expected to be calmer than the historically extremely stormy season of 2020.
The report is further broken down into the following statistics. With a confidence level of 70 %, NOAA expects 13 to 20 named storms in 2021 (defined as exceeding 39 mph wind velocity), of which 6 to 10 are expected to become hurricanes (> 74 mph) and include 3 to 5 major hurricanes (category 3 and higher, or > 111 mph). NOAA reported their annual prediction with respect to their newly updated guidelines (opens in a new tab), which estimate a “normal hurricane season” to include 14 named storms, 7 hurricanes and 3 major hurricanes, which is an increase by 2 storms and 1 hurricane compared to the old model. The update was made in 2021, based on a meta-analysis of hurricane seasons between 1991 and 2020 and reflects a long-term increase of storm activity in the past decades.
The report also discusses mechanistic observations of global weather phenomena, such as the conditions of the El Nino Southern Oscillation (ENSO), which are in the neutral phase. Possibility of the return of La Nina later this year is also highlighted and ascribed to support the current, “high-activity era”. The report further elaborates on the above-average water surface temperatures of the Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean Sea, above-average west African monsoon activity and weak tropical Atlantic trade winds, as contributing factors to this year’s overall storm activity.
NOAA has made several confidence-inspiring statements, in which they highlight the importance of hurricane awareness, ongoing research into the impact of climate change on storm activity and several updates and improvements to NOAA’s products and forecasting, including an upgraded Global Forecast System (GFS) which extend the ocean wave forecast from 10 to up to 16 days and newly uses Global Positioning Satellite Radio Occultation (GPS-RO) data, upgrade to a new probabilistic storm surge model (P-Surge) which is said to improve information on tropical cyclone wind structure and extend high-confidence forecasts by the National Hurricane Center from 48 to 60 hours, newly deployed array of air and water uncrewed systems for data gathering by NOAA’s Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory, new drones which will be launched by NOAA Hurricane Hunter aircraft and flown into lower regions of hurricanes, and other improvements to their global climate monitoring endeavors.
NOAA further recommends visiting FEMA’s Ready.gov (opens in a new tab) to learn how to prepare you and your household for hurricanes, FEMA mobile phone app (opens in a new tab) which alerts its users of upcoming storms, purchasing flood insurance to protect your household and spreading hurricane awareness in your community.
Being prepared is extremely important, not only for the hurricane season, but for any climate or weather-related event. Make sure you have needed supplies in advance. This may be a good time to evaluate whether or not a dependable supply of backup power for your home is in your interests. It’s never a bad idea to invest in a portable generator for emergencies.