Of those 21 storms, 10 will be hurricanes, experts said, calling it “really a strange thing that we’ve had six consecutive seasons be so active.”
MIAMI – Federal forecasters expect yet another busy Atlantic hurricane season in 2022: As many as 10 hurricanes could form, meteorologists said Tuesday.
The season begins June 1 and runs through Nov. 30. An average season typically spawns seven hurricanes and peaks in August and September. If predictions hold true, it will be a record seventh consecutive year of above-normal activity.
“It’s really a strange thing that we’ve had six consecutive seasons be so active,” University of Miami hurricane researcher Brian McNoldy said.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) said 14 to 21 named storms will develop. These numbers include tropical storms, which contain wind speeds of 39 mph or higher. Storms become hurricanes when winds reach 74 mph.
Of the predicted hurricanes, three to six could be major hurricanes, packing wind speeds of 111 mph or higher.
The National Hurricane Center ran out of names for Atlantic storms in the past two years; there were a record-setting 30 named storms in 2020 and 21 last year. In the past five years there have been more Category 4 and 5 hurricane landfalls in the United States than in the previous 50 years combined.
The predicted active season is a result of several climate factors, including the ongoing La Niña, warmer-than-average sea surface temperatures in the Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean Sea, weaker tropical Atlantic trade winds and an enhanced west African monsoon.
El Niño, a natural warming of ocean water in the tropical Pacific Ocean, tends to suppress Atlantic hurricane activity. Its opposite, La Niña, a cooling of that same water, usually boosts the number of hurricanes in the Atlantic.
NOAA’s forecast follows others this spring that called for a more active hurricane season.
Last month, meteorologists at Colorado State University predicted 19 tropical storms will form, nine of which will become hurricanes.
Several other hurricane experts agree with NOAA that the Atlantic conditions are ripe for yet another active hurricane season.
“We’re seeing these storms happen more frequently. They’re lasting longer,” FEMA Director Deanne Criswell said in a New York City news conference.
Forecasters also released their prediction for the eastern Pacific basin, where 10 to 17 named storms are forecast. An average eastern Pacific hurricane season produces 15 named storms. Eastern Pacific storms primarily stay out to sea and seldom affect the U.S. mainland.
Contributing: The Associated Press