The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announced Tuesday the dates for the 2021 Atlantic hurricane season, which has an average 70-year annual forecast range of 12 to 17 named storms, of which 5 to 9 will develop into hurricanes, with 2 to 4 becoming major hurricanes (Category 3 or above). The hurricane season begins June 1 and ends Nov. 30. This year’s season was largely record-breaking, with a remarkable 16 named storms and 9 hurricanes.
The agency’s release cited higher sea surface temperatures and the availability of water resources for hurricanes as reasons for optimism for next year, as well as a potential return to large-scale La Niña conditions, which tend to suppress storm activity in the Atlantic.
The agency used three factors, or a “Keys,” to assess the likelihood of an active or even extremely active hurricane season. “As always, the best forecast in weather forecasting is that of a seasonal outlook,” said Gerry Bell, NOAA’s lead seasonal hurricane forecaster. “There are currently several key uncertainties that need to be resolved in order to have confidence in the potential strength and frequency of hurricanes during the seasonal outlook period.”
Hurricane season intensity probabilities and advance forecasts will be made in the spring, when organizations have made more accurate seasonal forecasts in recent years.