A new hurricane forecast for 2021 season is out

Last Year we had a record breaking hurricane season

Two months and counting until June 1 -- the official first day of hurricane season -- although there is talk of starting it early (like the Pacific season, which begins May 15).

Consequently, this is the time for different weather companies and colleges to begin issuing their hurricane forecasts for 2021. I can forecast now that all these forecasts will be for an active season either at average or above.

Speaking of which, while the “average” number has been for 12 storms, 6 becoming hurricanes and 3 becoming major hurricanes (based on 1981 to 2010), Brian McNoldy, of the University of Miami, has reassessed that average based on the increased activity the past three decades. Using that, he suggests that the new normal is closer to 14-7-3 (1990-2020).

AccuWeather buys into that (and it makes perfect sense). In that vein, they are predicting a slightly above average season ahead.

ACCUWEATHER Hurricane Forecast

Their ranges are above the 14 storms and start at the minimum for hurricanes and major hurricanes. Dan Kottlowski heads their Tropical Forecasting team -- I worked with Dan from 1995 to 2005 and trust his forecasts.

Contributing factors

Generally, and this will be true of all forecasts this year, the water temperatures are key. While we are running above normal for water temps right now in the Atlantic, we are NOT running as warm as this time a year ago, likely due to the huge polar outbreak in February:

The Atlantic and Gulf are both warmer than normal. Map courtesy of tropical tidbits

La Niña also plays an important role, as the cooler water in the Pacific does not create as much wind shear as El Niño (warmer water = rising air = more wind). Those El Niño winds can tear apart forming storms in the Caribbean and Gulf, but with a La Niña in place, that won’t happen. The most recent models predict that La Niña may last all year. Notice that red line is below the 0.0 black line, which is neutral:

A weak La Nina may well continue this year

You may have noticed that AccuWeather forecasts three to five United States impacts this year, meaning a storm hitting the mainland that many times. The position of the Bermuda High helps determine the path of storms and they are predicting a weak Bermuda High meaning that storms forming in the Atlantic would most likely aim at the Eastern Seaboard as opposed to coming into the Gulf:

Location of the Bermuda can determine a hurricane's path

Bottom line to their article -- be prepared. Anyone who has been through a hurricane can tell you it only takes one. The full AccuWeather article is right here if you’d like further reading. Next week, Colorado State University’s forecast comes out -- one of the most respected in the world.


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About the Author:

KPRC 2's chief meteorologist with three decades of experience forecasting Houston's weather.