Hurricane season is officially underway
Posted June 1, 2021 11:01 a.m. EDT
Updated June 2, 2021 8:44 a.m. EDT
The Atlantic hurricane season is officially underway. While this year is not expected to be quite as active as the record-breaking 2020 season, it still looks like we will have an above-average season. All North Carolinians know that it only takes one storm to have devastating impacts on our state. Last year, we had a record-setting 30 named storms in the Atlantic. We had 14 hurricanes and 7 major hurricanes.
The 2021 season will likely be another active season. NOAA says we have a 60% chance of an above-normal season. As of now, we are in an El Nino neutral phase. We have the potential to return to a La Nina pattern later in the season. We tend to have an active tropical season during El Nino Neutral and La Nina patterns.
This year, we got off to another early start with Tropical Storm Ana. As the globe continues to get warmer and warmer, our sea surface temperatures are also getting warmer and warmer. This is one of the factors that allows storms to form earlier than June 1st. In 1971, we would typically get our first named storm in July. Over the last 7 years, we have had pre-season named storms. NOAA is considering changing the official start time of hurricane season to May 15th since activity continues to develop earlier than June 1st.
Water temperatures in the tropical Atlantic during hurricane season have risen 1.85 degrees over the past 100 years. Combine that with a warming atmosphere and you have a greater chance of storms strengthening. Since 1979, we have seen a steady increase in the number of major hurricanes (category 3 or higher).
We can all rest easy for now. The tropics are quiet and we do not expect any development in the next 5 days. The WRAL Severe Weather Team will keep you posted as we head deeper into the hurricane season.