A major hurricane has a 71% chance of striking the continental United States this season, Colorado State University (CSU) researchers said Thursday, up from the 52% chance during the past century.
Along the Gulf Coast, there’s a 46% likelihood of a major Category 3, 4, or 5 hurricane hitting between Florida’s panhandle westward to Brownsville, Texas.
Hurricane season in the Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico begins June 1, and forecasters are predicting a more active season than usual.
Colorado State released its initial forecast, calling 19 named storms, nine hurricanes, and four major hurricanes with winds more than 110 mph.
That coincides with an AccuWeather forecast Wednesday that predicted between three and five major hurricanes.
In an average hurricane season, the Atlantic sees around 14 named storms, seven of which become hurricanes and three major hurricanes. The CSU forecast cites La Nina conditions or cooler than normal Pacific waters to drive the above normal activity in the Atlantic Ocean.
When water temperatures over the equatorial Pacific are colder, it promotes less wind shear, which promotes storm development. This is opposite of El Nino conditions, which historically produce less active storm seasons in the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico.
Another big contributor to a potentially active season ahead is the above-average ocean water temperatures in the eastern and central Atlantic. Warm water is the main contributor to the development of storms and drives storms to become hurricanes, defined by sustained winds greater than 74 mph.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is to release its 2022 forecast in May, and Colorado State will provide its updated forecast by June 2. Hurricane season in the Atlantic runs between June 1 and Nov. 30.
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