PODCAST: Another above-average Atlantic hurricane season predicted for 2021

Hurricane Dorian made landfall on southern Hatteras Island on Sept. 6, 2019. [NOAA image]

The first long-range forecast for the Atlantic basin is calling for another above-average hurricane season in 2021.

Scientists at Colorado State University made the prediction based on current atmospheric conditions over the Pacific Ocean will remain favorable into the hurricane season that runs June 1 through November 30, and sea surface temperatures in the Atlantic that are near to above average for this time of year.

The CSU estimate is that 2021 will have around 17 named tropical cyclones, eight that become hurricanes, and four that become major hurricanes of category three or higher.

“We anticipate an above-average probability for major hurricanes making landfall along the continental United States coastline and in the Caribbean,” the group said in its forecast released Thursday.

The probability of a major hurricane making landfall anywhere on the United States coastline is 69 percent, with the entire Eastern Seaboard and Florida Gulf Coast at 45 percent and the rest of the Gulf Coast at 44 percent.

And the Outer Banks and North Carolina, as usual, are right in the heart of the target of likely seeing a major hurricane.

“You’re looking at about a 52 percent landfall probability, which is pretty high,” said graduate research assistant Jhordanne Jones of the Colorado State University Department of Atmospheric Science. “For named storms, it increases to 84 percent. But of course that can change as we progress into the season.”

[graphic courtesy @philklotzbach/Twitter]

“As is the case with all hurricane seasons, coastal residents are reminded that it only takes one hurricane making landfall to make it
an active season for them,” CSU said. “They should prepare the same for every season, regardless of how much activity is predicted.”

The 2020 predictions from Colorado State also called for an above-average season, and was not far off from predicting the new records for seasonal activity set last year.

In total, the 2020 season produced 30 named storms (top winds of 39 mph or greater), of which 13 became hurricanes (top winds of 74 mph or greater), including six major hurricanes (top winds of 111 mph or greater). This is the most storms on record, surpassing the 28 from 2005, and the second-highest number of hurricanes on record.

Twelve named systems made landfall in the continental United States, including Hurricane Isaias that came ashore in Brunswick County on the southeast North Carolina coast.

The predictions are from research scientist Philip J. Klotzbach, associate professor Michael M. Bell and graduate research assistant Jhordanne Jones of the Colorado State University Department of Atmospheric Science.

Their forecast was prepared in memory of William M. Gray, emeritus professor of atmospheric science at Colorado State University and head of the Tropical Meteorology Project at CSU, who passed away in 2016.

“This forecast is based on an extended-range early April statistical prediction scheme that was developed using 38 years of past data. Analog predictors are also utilized. We also include a statistical/dynamical model based off of 40 years of data from the ECMWF SEAS5 model.

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This story originally appeared on OBXToday.com. Read More local stories here.