Thursday, May 20th 2021, 8:11 pm - The U.S. agency is the latest to predict an above-average season, after a record-breaking number of named storms in 2020.
With forecasters already eyeing the potential for the first named storm of 2021, the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) says another above-active Atlantic hurricane season looks likely.
NOAA's Climate Prediction Center announced on Thursday that it was predicting a 60 per cent chance of an above-normal season, along with a 30 per cent chance it will be near-normal, and a 10 per cent probability it will come in below-normal.
The season runs from June 1st through November 30th, though storms can occur outside of that range and, indeed, Thursday featured a disturbance in the Atlantic that had an 80 per cent chance of becoming a named storm.
In all, NOAA predicts a range of 13-20 named storms, of which 6-10 are expected to reach full-fledged hurricane status, with winds of at least 119 km/h.
NOAA also expects 3-5 major hurricanes, categorized as storms at least Category 3 in strength, a range that is also slightly above-average.
“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 release.
Other forecasters are expecting an above-average season. Last month, experts at Colorado State University released their predictions, expecting 17 named storms, eight hurricanes and four major hurricanes.
On Thursday, the Canadian Hurricane Centre released its own forecast, virtually identical to that of NOAA. For more details, watch the video below, from The Weather Network's Nathan Coleman.
2020 SEASON SHATTERED RECORDS
An above-average season was forecast last year as well, and as it played out, it more than delivered.
With a full 30 named storms –– two more than 2005, the previous record-holder –– 2020 is the most active hurricane season on record, with hundreds of deaths across the Caribbean and billions of dollars in damages. It also tied with 2005 for number of major hurricanes, tallying seven once one storm, Zeta, was reclassified earlier this year.
NOAA's GOES-East satellite captured this image of Hurricane Laura on August 26, 2020 as it approached the Gulf Coast. (NOAA)
The number of storms was so great that they overran the traditional Latin-based name list, forcing the use of the Greek alphabet for only the second time, and the first time since 2005. In all, nine storms were given Greek names, with the last, Hurricane Iota, dissipating in mid-November.
The World Meteorological Organization retired the names of three of 2020's storms – Laura, Eta and Iota – and discontinued the use of the Greek alphabet for future seasons. In case of future overflow, the name list will roll back to "A" and draw from a pre-selected alternate Latin list.