NC State researchers predict above-average Atlantic hurricane season, 15 to 18 named storms

Tracking the Tropics

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — North Carolina State University researchers are predicting an above-average Atlantic hurricane season in 2021, according to a release from the university.

Researchers are predicting 15 to 18 named storms in the Atlantic basin this hurricane season. The Atlantic basin includes all of the Atlantic Ocean, Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea.

Lian Xie, professor of marine, earth and atmospheric sciences at N.C. State, said the number of named storms is above the long-term average.

The long-term average of named storms, which is the average from 1951 to 2020, is 11.

Of the 15 to 18 predicted named storms, seven to nine could grow strong enough to become hurricanes. According to the researchers, the historic average is six. Of those seven to nine storms, two to three could become major hurricanes.

The Gulf of Mexico is expected to see an active hurricane season, but one more in line with historical averages.

Xie’s data shows the likelihood of three to five named storms in the area, with two to four of them becoming hurricanes and one becoming a major hurricane. The average for the Gulf of Mexico is three named storms and one hurricane.

According to the release, Xie and the researchers’ methodology “evaluates more than 100 years of historical data on Atlantic Ocean hurricane positions and intensity, as well as other variables, including weather patterns and sea-surface temperatures, to predict how many storms will form in each ocean basin.”

The Atlantic hurricane season starts June 1 and runs through Nov. 30.

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