FORT COLLINS, Colo. – A well above-average Atlantic hurricane season is expected this year, according to the latest modeling forecasts from Colorado State University researchers.
CSU’s Tropical Meteorology Project team said in a news release Thursday the odds of La Niña conditions across the Pacific have increased from their previous projections made in early April, with sea temperatures across the tropical and eastern Atlantic now warmer than normal, a weather configuration that is considered “quite favorable” for an active hurricane season.
La Niña is a climate pattern that plays a key role in the development of hurricanes, as it weakens upper-level winds due to cooling water in the equatorial Pacific, which in return reduces the necessary wind shear in the tropical Atlantic needed to stop hurricanes from forming.
The team is predicting 20 named storms and 10 hurricanes for the 2022 hurricane season, 5 of which are expected to reach major hurricane strength – hurricanes ranging from Category 3 to Category 5 – with winds of 111 miles per hour or greater.
Phil Klotzbach, a research scientist in the Department of Atmospheric Science at CSU and lead author of the report, told Denver7 Thursday that while his team expects an above normal hurricane season this year, hurricane seasons vary from year-to-year.
In 2020, for example, there were a total of 30 named storms and 14 hurricanes. Last year, there were only 21 storms and 7 hurricanes, 4 of which were classified as major, according to Klotzbach.
“The team predicts that 2022 hurricane activity will be about 145% of the average season,” the news release states. “By comparison, 2021’s hurricane activity was about 120% of the average season.”
This year’s projections are still “well above the long-term average of about 14 storms, 7 hurricanes and 3 major hurricanes,” Klotzbach said.
The report also estimates the probability of major hurricanes making landfall, projecting a 76% probability that a major hurricane will landfall along the U.S. coastline and a 51% probability that a major hurricane will hit the U.S. East Coast, including the Florida peninsula. Probabilities for a major hurricane hitting the Gulf Coast from the Florida panhandle westward to Brownsville diminish to about 50%, according to the news release.
If a hurricane were to make landfall and cause significant impacts, Klotzbach said, Coloradans should expect supply chain issues and even higher prices at the pump.
The CSU team will issue forecast updates on July 7 and Aug. 4.