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  • Writer's pictureThe San Juan Daily Star

Above-normal hurricane activity forecast for 2024 season

More than 2 dozen named storms possible

A confluence of factors, including near-record ocean temperatures in the Atlantic, the development of La Niña conditions in the Pacific, reduced trade winds in the Atlantic and reduced wind shear all tend to favor the formation of tropical storms.

By The Star Staff

Meteorologists from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) National Weather Service at the Climate Prediction Center are forecasting above-normal hurricane activity in the Atlantic basin this year.

NOAA’s forecast for the 2024 Atlantic hurricane season, which runs from June 1 to Nov. 30, calls for an 85% chance of an above-normal season, a 10% chance of a near-normal season, and a 5% chance of a below-normal season.

NOAA forecasts a range of 17 to 25 named storms (winds of 39 mph or higher). Of those, 8 to 13 are expected to become hurricanes (winds of 74 mph or higher), including four to seven major hurricanes (Category three, four or five; with winds of 111 mph or higher). Meteorologists have 70% confidence in these ranges.

“I think all systems are go for a hyperactive season,” Phil Klotzbach, an expert in seasonal hurricane forecasts at Colorado State University, told The New York Times.

The upcoming hurricane season is expected to have above-normal activity due to a confluence of factors, including near-record ocean temperatures in the Atlantic, the development of La Niña conditions in the Pacific, reduced trade winds in the Atlantic, and reduced wind shear. all of which tend to favor the formation of tropical storms.

“Severe weather and emergencies can happen at any time, so people and communities need to be prepared today,” said Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Deputy Administrator Erik Hooks. “We are already seeing storms move across the country that can bring additional hazards such as tornadoes, flooding and hail. Taking a proactive approach to our increasingly challenging climate landscape today can make a difference in how people can recover tomorrow.”

As one of the strongest observed El Niño weather patterns comes to an end, NOAA scientists predict a rapid transition to La Niña conditions, which are conducive to hurricane activity in the Atlantic because La Niña tends to reduce wind shear in the tropics. At the same time, the abundant ocean heat content in the tropical Atlantic and Caribbean Sea creates more energy to fuel storm development.

The approaching hurricane season also features the potential for an above-normal West African monsoon, which can produce East African waves that generate some of the strongest and longest-lasting Atlantic storms. Finally, light trade winds allow hurricanes to grow in intensity without the interruption of strong wind shear and also minimize ocean cooling. Human-caused climate change is warming the Earth’s oceans globally and in the Atlantic basin, and melting ice on land is causing sea levels to rise, increasing the risk of storm surge. Sea level rise represents a clear human influence on the damage potential of a given hurricane.

NOAA will implement improvements to its forecast communications, decision support, and storm recovery efforts this season. These include:

– The National Hurricane Center (NHC) will expand its Spanish-language product offering to include all public notices, Tropical Cyclone Discussion, Tropical Cyclone Update, and Key Messages in the Atlantic basin.

– Beginning Aug. 15, the NHC will begin issuing an experimental version of the forecast cone chart that includes a representation of the tropical storm and hurricane landfall watches and warnings in effect for the continental United States. Research indicates that adding ground-based alerts and warnings to the cone chart will help communicate land-based hazards during tropical cyclone events without overcomplicating the current version of the chart.

– This season, the NHC will be able to issue tropical cyclone watches and warnings in the United States with regular or intermediate public warnings. This means that if alert updates and warnings are needed for storm surge or winds, the NHC will be able to notify the public in an intermediate advisory instead of having to wait for the next full advisory that is issued every six hours.

“With another active hurricane season approaching, NOAA’s commitment to keeping all Americans informed with life-saving information is unwavering,” NOAA Administrator Rick Spinrad said in a written statement. “AI-enabled language translations and a new representation of onshore wind threats in the forecast cone are just two examples of the proactive steps our agency is taking to meet our mission to save lives and protect property.”

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Allan Roach
Allan Roach
May 31

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