The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration expects an “above normal” Atlantic hurricane season this year, the agency announced Tuesday.
If that plays out, it would make 2022 the seventh consecutive year with an above-normal Atlantic hurricane season.
Rick Spinrad, the NOAA administrator, said Tuesday that the agency’s scientists had calculated a 65% chance of an above-normal season, a 25% chance of a near-normal season, and a 10% chance of a below-normal season.
The season is likely to include 14-21 named storms, a category that includes all storms with top winds of at least 39 mph. Of those, 6-10 are expected to reach hurricane strength, meaning sustained winds of at least 74 mph. And of that subset, 3-6 are expected to reach Category 3 or higher, meaning sustained winds of at least 111 mph.
But “it only takes one storm to damage your home, neighborhood and community,” Spinrad said. “Preparedness is key to resilience, and now is the time to get ready for the upcoming hurricane season.”
Key factors in the forecast include the ongoing La Niña climatic pattern, unusually warm sea surface temperatures in the Atlantic Ocean, and unusually weak tropical trade winds.
Many of the patterns that have led to above-average hurricane seasons, and to other extreme weather, are related to climate change.
Climate change is producing more powerful storms, and they dump more water because of heavier rainfall and a tendency to dawdle and meander; rising seas and slower storms can make for higher and more destructive storm surges. But humans play a part in making storm damage more expensive, as well, by continuing to build in vulnerable coastal areas.
“We’re seeing such a dramatic change in the type of weather events that we’re facing as a result of climate change,” Deanne Criswell, administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, told reporters Tuesday, emphasizing the need for individual preparedness.