After two of the most active hurricane seasons on record in 2020 and 2021, top hurricane forecasters are expecting another above-normal season this year, according to the Scuttlebutt Sailing News website.
For the season, which begins June 1, meteorologist Phil Klotzbach and other experts from Colorado State University–among the nation’s top seasonal hurricane forecasters–predict 19 named tropical storms will form in 2022, of which nine will become hurricanes.
An average season has 14 tropical storms, seven of which become hurricanes. If the prediction holds true, it will be the seventh consecutive above-normal season.
A tropical storm becomes a hurricane when its wind speed reaches 74 mph. Of the nine predicted hurricanes, four are expected to spin into major hurricanes–Category 3, 4 or 5–with sustained wind speeds of 111 mph or greater. The group said there’s a 71 percent chance at least one major hurricane will make landfall in the U.S.
The Atlantic hurricane season runs from June 1 to Nov. 30, though storms sometimes form outside those dates. Storms have formed in May in each of the past seven years.
According to Klotzbach, the reasons for the above-average forecast include the predicted lack of El Niño and warmer-than-normal seawater in the subtropical Atlantic Ocean.
One of the major determining factors in hurricane forecasting is the presence of an El Niño or La Niña climate pattern. El Niño is a natural warming of tropical Pacific Ocean water, which tends to suppress the development of Atlantic hurricanes. Its opposite, La Niña, marked by cooler ocean water, tends to increase hurricanes in the Atlantic.