Colorado State University hurricane researchers have increased their forecast and are now predicting a well-above-average Atlantic hurricane season in 2022. The likelihood of El Niño for this year’s hurricane season is now fairly low, and the likelihood of La Niña conditions has increased compared to what was projected with the first outlook in early April.
Average sea surface temperatures in the tropical Atlantic are now warmer than normal, while the eastern Atlantic is much warmer than normal. This type of sea surface temperature configuration is considered quite favorable for an active 2022 Atlantic hurricane season.
The tropical east and central Pacific currently has weak La Niña conditions; that is, the water temperatures there are slightly below average. CSU researchers predict these waters will likely remain slightly (e.g., cool neutral ENSO) to slightly below normal (e.g., La Niña) during the Atlantic hurricane season. They believe El Niño is extremely unlikely this year. El Niño tends to strengthen upper-level westerly winds across the Caribbean into the tropical Atlantic, tearing hurricanes apart as they attempt to form.
The tropical Atlantic is currently warmer than normal, while the eastern Atlantic is much warmer than normal from the subtropics to mid-latitudes. This type of sea surface temperature configuration tends to force a weaker subtropical high and associated weaker winds blowing across the tropical Atlantic. These conditions then lead to warmer waters in the tropical Atlantic for the peak of the Atlantic hurricane season.
20 named storms
The CSU Tropical Meteorology Project team is forecasting 20 named storms in 2022. Of those, researchers expect 10 to become hurricanes and five to be major hurricane strength (Saffir/Simpson Category 3-4-5) with sustained winds of 111 Miles per hour or reach will be greater. This forecast is an increase from the forecast in early April, which predicted 19 named storms, nine hurricanes and four major hurricanes.
The team bases its forecasts on one statistical model and three models using a combination of statistical information and forecasts from dynamic models from the UK Met Office, the Japan Meteorological Agency and the European Center for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts. These models are based on historical hurricane seasons spanning 25 to 40 years and assess conditions such as: Atlantic sea surface temperature, sea level pressure, vertical wind shear (wind direction and speed change with altitude in the atmosphere), El Niño (warming of water bodies in the central and eastern tropical Pacific) and other factors.
So far, the 2022 hurricane season has shared characteristics with those of 1996, 1999, 2000, 2008, 2011, and 2021. “1996, 1999, 2008, and 2021 had above-average activity, while 2000 and 2011 had near-average activity,” said Phil Klotzbach, a research associate in the Department of Atmospheric Science and lead author of the report.
The team projects that hurricane activity will account for about 145% of the average season in 2022. In comparison, hurricane activity in 2021 was about 120% of the average season. The 2021 hurricane season saw eight named continental U.S. storms and two continental U.S. hurricanes that made landfall, including Category 4 Hurricane Ida, which struck the central Gulf Coast and then devastated the mid-Atlantic and northeastern regions USA brought
The CSU team will release forecast updates on July 7th and August 4th.
This is the 39th year that the CSU Hurricane Research Team has issued a seasonal Atlantic Basin hurricane forecast. The team on the tropical meteorology project also includes Michael Bell, a professor in the CSU Department of Atmospheric Science, and Alex DesRosiers, a research fellow at the same institute. Bill Gray, who prepared the seasonal forecasts, published the report in 1984 and continued to write it until his death in 2016.
The CSU forecast is intended to provide a best estimate of Atlantic activity over the coming season – not an exact measure.
As always, researchers are warning coastal residents to take proper precautions.
“It only takes one storm in your area to make this an active season,” Bell said.
Landing probability included in report
The report also includes the probability of major hurricanes making landfall:
- 76% for the entire US coast (the average over the last century is 52%)
- 51% for US East Coast including Florida Peninsula (last century average is 31%)
- 50% for the Gulf Coast from the Florida Panhandle west to Brownsville (last century average is 30%)
- 65% for the Caribbean (last century average is 42%)
The forecasting team also provides probabilities for named storms, hurricanes, and major hurricanes tracked within 50 miles of each county or municipality along the Gulf and US East Coast, as well as hurricane-prone coastal states, Mexican states, Canadian provinces, and countries in Central America and the caribbean These regional and country probabilities are adjusted based on the current seasonal forecast and its projected impact on the upcoming hurricane season.
Funding for this year’s report was provided by Ironshore Insurance, Insurance Information Institute, First Onsite, Weatherboy and a grant from the G. Unger Vetlesen Foundation.
Atlantic Basin extended range hurricane forecast for 2022
Released on June 2, 2022
Extended range of tropical cyclone parameters
(1991-2020 average climatological forecast for 2022
Named Storms (14.4)* 20
Named Storm Days (69.4) 95
Hurricanes (7.2) 10
Hurricane Days (27.0) 40
Major hurricanes (3.2) 5
Major Hurricane Days (7.4) 11
Accumulated Cyclone Energy (123) 180
Net tropical cyclone activity (135%) 195
* Numbers in ( ) represent average values based on data from 1991-2020.