NOAA 2024 hurricane season forecast warns of more storms than ever. Here's why.

NOAA 2024 hurricane season forecast warns of more storms than ever. Here's why.

MIAMI — The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has released its 2024 forecast for the Atlantic hurricane season, which officially starts on June 1. NOAA's report predicts an "above average" hurricane season with 17 to 25 named storms, 8 to 13 hurricanes, and 4 to 7 major hurricanes of category 3 or higher.

"Of note, the forecast for named storms, hurricanes and major hurricanes is the highest NOAA has ever issued for the May outlook," said NOAA Administrator Dr. Rick Spinrad.

According to NOAA's 2024 outlook, there is an 85% chance of an above-normal season, 10% chance of a near-normal season and a 5% chance of a below-normal season. Of these predictions made, NOAA said its forecasters are 70% confident in these ranges.

The hurricane season officially starts on June 1 and ends on November 30, with most activity occurring between mid-August and mid-October.  An average season has 14 named storms, seven hurricanes, and three major hurricanes.

The upcoming season is expected to have above average activity due to a variety of factors, including near-record warm ocean temperatures in the Atlantic Ocean, development of La Niña conditions in the Pacific Ocean, reduced Atlantic trade winds and less wind shear, all of which tend to favor tropical storm formation, Spinrad said.

"We expected an above average forecast from NOAA this year. We are all looking at the same signals. For this season, it comes down to two main factors: a developing La Niña pattern in the eastern Pacific and record-setting sea surface temperatures in the Tropical Atlantic Basin," CBS Miami Chief Meteorologist and Hurricane Specialist Ivan Cabrera said of the forecast.

"Those two key factors are what we're watching and if they come together as we think they will, we can expect a very active hurricane season this year," Cabrera added.

As one of the strongest El Niños ever observed nears its end, NOAA predicts a quick transition to La Niña conditions, which are conducive to Atlantic hurricane activity because these conditions tend to lessen wind shear in the tropics. At the same time, abundant oceanic heat content in the tropical Atlantic and Caribbean Sea creates more energy to fuel storm development.

Additionally, this hurricane season also features the potential for an above-normal west African monsoon, which can produce easterly winds that seed some of the strongest and longest-lived Atlantic storms, NOAA said.

Finally, light trade winds allow hurricanes to grow in strength without the disruption of strong wind shear and minimize ocean cooling.

"Human-caused climate change is warming our ocean globally and in the Atlantic basin, and melting ice on land, leading to sea level rise, which increases the risk of storm surge," NOAA said. "Sea level rise represents a clear human influence on the damage potential from a given hurricane."

During Thursday's press conference, NOAA also released the list of 2024 hurricane names ranging from Alberto to William.

Though "all the ingredients" are in place for an active season, National Weather Service (NWS) Director Ken Graham said it's a reason to be "concerned but not alarmed."

NOAA, NWS, and FEMA also guided how the public can prepare ahead of a potential storm impacting their area as Spinrad, Graham, and FEMA Deputy Administrator Erik Hooks reminded everyone that preparedness is key.

"Before hurricane season officially begins, my message to the American people is this: Take time to make sure that you have a clear understanding of your unique risk now," Hooks said.

That includes making sure you have all your items and valuables with you before the storm hits, including medication, personal documents and electronics.

NOAA said it will implement improvements to its forecast communications, decision support, and storm recovery efforts this season. These include expanding its offering of Spanish-language text products, issuing an experimental version of the forecast cone graphic around August 15, and issuing regular and intermediate public advisories as needed instead of having to wait every six hours.

Additionally, the agency is introducing new tools for hurricane analysis and forecasting, along with system upgrades for the 2024 season.

For starters, two new forecast models developed by NOAA researchers will go into operation this season: The Modular Ocean Model (MOM6) will be added to the Hurricane Analysis and Forecast System to improve representation of the key role the ocean plays in driving hurricane intensity. The other model, called SDCON, will predict the probability of tropical cyclone rapid intensification.

NOAA's new generation of Flood Inundation Mapping, which Spinrad noted was made possible through President Joe Biden's bipartisan infrastructure law, will provide information to emergency and water managers to prepare and respond to potential flooding and help local officials better prepare and protect people and infrastructure.

Also, NOAA's Weather Prediction Center, in partnership with the National Hurricane Center (NHC), will issue an experimental rainfall graphic for the Caribbean and Central America during this season. This graphic will provide forecast rainfall totals associated with a tropical cyclone or disturbance for a specified time period.

Before and during the official start of the season, NOAA has upgraded many coastal weather buoys in the tropical western Atlantic and Caribbean to include time of occurrence and measurements of one-minute wind speed and direction, five-second peak wind gust and direction, and lowest one-minute barometric pressure to support tropical cyclone forecasting.

New for 2024, NOAA will gather additional observations using Directional Wave Spectra Drifters (DWSDs) deployed from the NOAA P-3 hurricane hunter aircraft and in the vicinity of Saildrones -- uncrewed surface vehicles which will be deployed at the start of the season to provide one-minute data in real-time. NOAA said 11 to 12 Saildrones are planned to be deployed this season.

Starting in June, NOAA will deploy dozens of observational underwater gliders to deploy in waters off the Caribbean, the Gulf of Mexico, and the United States East Coast. Also, a new lightweight dropsonde called Streamsonde will be deployed into developing tropical storms to collect multiple real-time observations to collect valuable wind data.

NOAA also introduced the Coordinated Hurricane Atmosphere-Ocean Sampling (CHAOS) research experiment, which aims to improve the understanding of air-sea interactions, providing sustained monitoring of key ocean features.

These projects will provide more observations of the ocean and atmosphere in the Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico, U.S. East Coast, and the tropical Atlantic regions, NOAA said.

Other 2024 hurricane season predictions

Researchers from the Colorado State University Tropical Meteorology Project predicted in April an "extremely active" 2024 season, including 23 named storms. Previous years had an average of 14.4 named storms. Their forecast included a 62% chance of a Category 3, 4 or 5 hurricane making landfall on the continental U.S. coastline, an increase from the average prediction of 43%.

Along the East Coast, including the Florida peninsula, the probability jumped to 34% from 21% – which was the average likelihood from 1880-2020. Along the Gulf Coast and Florida Panhandle, the increase was higher. Researchers predicted a 42% probability in that area, up from an average of 27% in previous years.

Stephanie Abrams, a meteorologist from The Weather Channel, also presented a similar prediction, telling "CBS Mornings" in March that rising air and ocean temperatures globally could set the stage for an "explosive hurricane season."

A look back at the 2023 hurricane season

The 2023 Atlantic hurricane season ended as the fourth busiest for most-named storms. It concluded with 20 named storms, seven of which went on to become hurricanes and of those three intensified into major hurricanes.

There were three storms that made landfall in the US. Two tropical storms made landfall, one in Texas and the other in North Carolina.

The only hurricane landfall was Idalia. It made landfall as a Category 3 hurricane on Aug. 30 near Keaton Beach, Florida, causing storm surge inundation of 7 to 12 feet and widespread rainfall flooding in Florida and throughout the southeast.

According to NOAA, four of the 15 deadliest and most destructive hurricanes ever recorded happened in the last 25 years.

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