Latest NOAA outlook continues to forecast above-average hurricane season

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RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — Do not let the recent lull in tropical activity fool you. We still have a long way to go in the Atlantic hurricane season, which officially runs through Nov. 30.

As we gear up for the historical peak of the season, which is mid-August through October, NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center released its updated outlook for the 2021 season. 

NOAA’s update calls for 15 to 21 named storms, including seven to 10 hurricanes. Of those, three to five could become major hurricanes (Category 3 or higher). The expected above-average season is due to both atmospheric and oceanic conditions favoring more tropical activity.

For comparison, NOAA’s May update had 13 to 20 named storms, six to 10 hurricanes and three to five major hurricanes. This early August update does include all five storms that have developed so far this year. 

Now there are many factors that can impact the season, including the possible return to La Niña conditions.

When we have La Niña conditions in the Equatorial Pacific, there is weaker wind shear, which allows tropical systems to be stronger as wind shear inhibits tropical development. In addition, an enhanced west Africa monsoon can also lead to more favorable development in the Atlantic.

When looking at Atlantic sea surface temperatures, they are not forecast to be as warm as they were during the historic 2020 season. 

The climatological peak of the Atlantic hurricane season is Sept. 10. 

No matter the number of storms we see this year, now is the time to make sure your family is prepared for any tropical impacts we may see here in central North Carolina.

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