Experts at Colorado State University are warning that the United States should prepare for a sixth straight year with an above-average number of Atlantic hurricanes.
CSU’s first official 2021 outlook predicts an active hurricane season, but one below the record-breaking scale of last year’s season. There were a record 30 named storms in 2020, running through the initial 21 chosen hurricane names; the last nine storms were identified with Greek letters.
CSU forecasters estimated that 17 named storms and eight hurricanes will form this year, according to a Reuters report. The historical annual average is 12 named storms and six hurricanes.
The forecast predicted that among 2021’s storms will be four major hurricanes that produce winds of at least 111 miles per hour.
“We are forecasting a well-above-average hurricane season,” CSU research scientist Philip Klotzbach told Reuters.
The streak of above-average hurricane seasons has lasted since 2016. Scientists have pointed to rising ocean temperatures driving the larger, more damaging storms.
Commodity weather specialist DTN predicted 20 named storms and nine hurricanes. DTN vice president of weather operations Renny Vandewege told Reuters that upper-level air flows would likely direct more storms to the Northeast this year. The year should be “much more normal and less costly” than last year for oil-producing and refining regions along the Gulf Coast, DTN said. Last year, the Gulf Coast suffered the largest fall in crude oil output since 2008.
Klotzbach told Reuters that there was a 45% probability that a major hurricane would strike the East Coast this year, and a 44% probability that a major hurricane would hit the Gulf Coast between the Florida panhandle and Brownsville, Texas. There was a 41% probability of a major hurricane coming within 50 miles of Florida, according to the CSU forecast. Louisiana had a 23% chance of a major hurricane coming within 50 miles, and Texas a 21% probability.
The larger, more powerful storms of recent years have killed thousands and caused property damage routinely hitting tens of billions of dollars, Reuters reported. Insured losses from natural catastrophes hit $76 billion in 2020, according to a Swiss Re estimate.