Forecasters predicting 3-6 major hurricanes, ‘above-normal’ season

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Earlier this week we were talking about our first named storm of the season, Arthur. After yet another early start, the upcoming Atlantic Hurricane Season is looking active.

Both N.C. State and Colorado State are calling for an above-normal season. And NOAA forecasters are saying the same, with a 60 percent chance of an above-average season.

There is a 30 percent chance of a near-normal season and only a 10 percent chance of a below-normal season. The official season runs from June 1 to November 30.

Their forecast calls for 13 to 19 named storms, six to 10 hurricanes, and three to six major hurricanes (category 3 or higher). That’s compared to an average of 12 named storms, six hurricanes and three major hurricanes.

It’s important to remember that this is a forecast for overall season activity, not a landfall forecast.

Several climate factors are driving the high likelihood of a busy season. First, sea surface temperatures are running warmer than normal.

Warm water is like fuel for tropical systems — the warmer the water, the better chance of development.

Wind shear (shear means changes in wind speed and direction with height) is also weaker. Strong wind shear inhibits tropical development.

Also, the El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO) conditions are forecast to stay neutral or lean toward La Niña. El Niño helps to suppress hurricane activity, La Niña can lead to more development.

There are several other factors that will be monitored as well.

If this upcoming season ends with above normal activity, it will be the fifth season in a row. That would break the previous record of four seasons, from 1998 to 2001.

Whether the forecast calls for a season to be above or below normal, the takeaway is the same. It only takes one storm impacting your community for it to be a busy season.

So take the time now to make sure you and your family are prepared. As we continue to deal with the new normal in the midst of COVID-19, it’s a good idea to review your plan and make any adjustments now.

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