NOAA Is Latest Forecaster To Predict Above-Average Hurricane Season

Satellite view of hurricane from space

May 21, 2021

Satellite view of hurricane from space

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has joined other forecasters in predicting another above-normal Atlantic hurricane season this year.

NOAA forecasters predict a 60 percent chance of an above-normal season, a 30 percent chance of a near-normal season, and a 10 percent chance of a below-normal season. The federal agency's experts don't anticipate the 2021 hurricane season matching the record level of storm activity seen in 2020, however.

NOAA projects a likely range of 13–20 named storms with winds of 39 mph or higher this year, of which 6–10 could become hurricanes, including 3–5 major hurricanes. The agency said it has 70 percent confidence in those ranges.

In April 2021, NOAA updated the statistics used to determine when hurricane seasons are above, near, or below the average relative to the latest climate record. Based on that update, an average Atlantic hurricane season produces 14 named storms, of which 7 become hurricanes, including 3 major hurricanes.

"Although NOAA scientists don't expect this season to be as busy as last year, it only takes one storm to devastate a community," Ben Friedman, acting NOAA administrator, said in a statement. "The forecasters at the National Hurricane Center are well-prepared with significant upgrades to our computer models, emerging observation techniques, and the expertise to deliver the life-saving forecasts that we all depend on during this, and every, hurricane season."

The 2020 hurricane season saw a record 30 named storms, of which 13 reached hurricane status, with 6 becoming major hurricanes. The previous record, set in 2005, was 28 named storms, including 15 hurricanes.

The Atlantic hurricane season runs from June 1 through November 30. Other forecasters, including those at Colorado State University, have also projected an above-normal hurricane season this year.

May 21, 2021