NOAA Predicts Active Hurricane Season

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The National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration is predicting an active hurricane season with a likely range of 13 to 20 named storms, of which six to 10 could become hurricanes, including three to five major hurricanes (Category 3, 4 or 5).

“Although NOAA scientists don’t expect this season to be as busy as last year, it only takes one storm to devastate a community,” acting NOAA administrator Ben Friedman 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 Atlantic hurricane season extends from June 1 through Nov. 30.

Forecasters said El Niño southern oscillation conditions are neutral, and that a La Niña episode may return later in the hurricane season.

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“ENSO-neutral and La Niña support the conditions associated with the ongoing high-activity era,” said Matthew Rosencrans, lead seasonal hurricane forecaster at NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center. “Predicted warmer-than-average sea surface temperatures in the tropical Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean Sea, weaker tropical Atlantic trade winds and an enhanced west African monsoon will likely be factors in this year’s overall activity.”

NOAA scientists are studying how climate change is impacting the strength and frequency of tropical cyclones.

“Now is the time for communities along the coastline, as well as inland, to get prepared for the dangers that hurricanes can bring,” said Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo. “The experts at NOAA are poised to deliver life-saving early warnings and forecasts to communities, which will also help minimize the economic impacts of storms.”

In March, NOAA upgraded the Global Forecast System to improve hurricane genesis forecasting, and coupled GFS with a wave model extending ocean wave forecasts from 10 days to 16 days. Additionally, Global Positioning Satellite Radio Occultation data are now included in the GFS model.

Hurricane Laura approaches the Gulf Coast on Aug. 26, 2020.

Hurricane Laura approaches the Gulf Coast on Aug. 26, 2020.

National Hurricane Center forecasters are using an upgraded probabilistic storm surge model — known as P-Surge — that includes improved tropical cyclone wind structure and storm size information for more accurate predictions. The upgrade extends the lead time of P-Surge forecast guidance from 48 to 60 hours.

NOAA’s Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory will deploy its largest array of air and water uncrewed systems to gather data designed to help improve hurricane intensity forecasts and forecast models. Drones will fly into the lower part of hurricanes, and over the ocean, saildrones, hurricane gliders, global drifters and air-deployable technology — called ALAMO floats — will track various parts of the life cycle of tropical storms.

"With hurricane season starting on June 1, now is the time to get ready and advance disaster resilience in our communities," said FEMA administrator Deanne Criswell.

NOAA said it will update its Atlantic outlook in early August.

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