Colorado State: Another active Atlantic Hurricane Season

CSU April 2021 Outlook
CSU April 2021 Outlook(Hannah Messier)
Published: Apr. 8, 2021 at 10:06 AM EDT
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) - In one of the first outlooks to be released in 2021, the Atlantic Hurricane Season looks to be another active year according to hurricane researchers.

Dr. Phil Klotzbach and his team at Colorado State University are calling for 17 named storms, with eight of those being hurricanes. Four of those hurricanes could be major — Category 3 strength or higher. Last April, CSU forecast 16 named storms, eight hurricanes, and four major hurricanes.

By the end of the 2020 Atlantic Hurricane Season, there were 30 named storms, 13 hurricanes, and six major hurricanes.

“We do these forecasts in early April because this is about as early as we can get where these forecasts show skill,” Klotzbach, a research scientist in the department of atmospheric sciences at CSU, said in an interview. “There’s a lot of curiosity people want to know [...] how active do you think the season is going to be.”

One indicator for the Atlantic, he said, is the El Niño Southern Oscillation ocean and atmospheric cycle.

“We do not anticipate El Niño conditions this summer and fall,” Klotzbach said. “El Niño is warmer than normal waters in the central and eastern tropical Pacific. When those normal than warmer waters are there in the tropical Pacific, it tends to increase upper-level winds that tear apart Atlantic hurricanes. We don’t think that’s going to be the case in 2021.”

In April 2020, the Pacific was exiting El Niño. This year, we’re exiting La Niña.

Another factor: A warmer than normal subtropical Atlantic.

“What that tends to do is alter pressure patterns and wind patterns in such a way that you get weaker winds blowing across the tropical Atlantic and those weaker winds cause less mixing,” Klotzbach said. “Less churning up of the ocean surface leading to warming in the tropical Atlantic for the peak of the Atlantic hurricane season.”

In March 2021, the Gulf of Mexico and the Main Development Region are cooler when compared to March 2020. However, March 2021′s temperatures in the subtropical Atlantic are similar to March 2020′s.

CSU said that this is still a preliminary forecast, and there is still some uncertainty in the months ahead.

“Overall, we are forecasting an above-average hurricane season, but it’s really too early to say whether the season’s going to have [...] a tremendous number of storms like we saw last year or maybe fewer storms but more long-lived intense storms,” Klotzbach said.

Regardless, being prepared is the best way to weather the storm.

CSU will update its forecast on June 3, July 8, and Aug. 5. These later forecasts will have more accurate details about the upcoming season.

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