WASHINGTON (NEWSnet/AP) — Unprecedented warm temperatures in the Atlantic Ocean will combine with the impacts of a La Niña cycle to brew one of the busiest Atlantic hurricane seasons on record during 2024, forecasters say.

“This season is looking to be an extraordinary one in a number of ways,” NOAA Administrator Rick Spinrad said. He said this forecast is the busiest in the 25 years that NOAA has been issuing in May. The agency updates its forecasts each August.

There’s an 85% chance that the Atlantic hurricane season that starts in June will be above average in storm activity, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reported Thursday in its annual outlook.

The weather agency predicted between 17 and 25 named storms this season, with 8 to 13 achieving hurricane status (at least 75 mph sustained winds) and four to seven of them becoming major hurricanes, with at least 111 mph winds.

To compare: an average Atlantic hurricane season produces 14 named storms, with seven of them hurricanes and three reaching the status of major hurricanes.


Peak hurricane season usually is mid-August to mid-October, with the official season starting June 1 and ending Nov. 30.

About 20 other groups — universities, other governments, private weather companies — also have made seasonal forecasts. All but two expect a busier, nastier summer and fall for hurricanes. The average of those other forecasts is about 11 hurricanes, or about 50% more than in a normal year.

“All the ingredients are definitely in place to have an active season,” National Weather Service Director Ken Graham said.

While hurricanes are part of a normal weather pattern, the severity of storm season depends on ocean temperatures in the Atlantic where storms spin up and need warm water for fuel; and furthermore, whether there is a La Niña or El Niño, the natural and periodic cooling or warming of Pacific Ocean waters that affects weather patterns worldwide.

A La Niña tends to turbocharge Atlantic storm activity while depressing storminess in the Pacific; while an El Niño does the opposite.

Ocean waters have seen record warmth for 13 months in a row; while the El Niño is dwindling; with La Niña is forecast to arrive by mid to late summer.

“We’ve never had a La Niña combined with ocean temperatures this warm in recorded history so that’s a little ominous,” said University of Miami tropical meteorology researcher Brian McNoldy.

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