NOAA Releases 2022 Hurricane Forecast

The agency expects another above-average storm season in the Atlantic
By Mike L. Ford,  Newser Staff
Posted May 24, 2022 1:58 PM CDT
NOAA Expects Another Busy Hurricane Season
A 2018 NASA image of Hurricane Florence   (Getty - Elen11)

If NOAA’s predictions are correct, 2022 will be the seventh straight year with above-average hurricane activity in the Atlantic. The agency predicts between 14 and 21 named storms, compared to an average of 14. It also expects 3 to 6 major hurricanes, which have sustained winds of at least 111mph and "are responsible for the overwhelming majority of damage due to wind and ocean surge," as the Washington Post puts it. This season could represent the continuation of a trend: Last year had 21 named storms, 2020 broke the record with 30, and every year going back to 2016 has been "above average."

In recent years, improved computer modeling and other technological enhancements have made NOAA’s predictions more accurate regarding both the frequency and intensity of storms. Climate-related factors also make prediction easier: warmer surface water temperatures provide fuel for hurricanes, and those temperatures have continued to tick higher in the western Atlantic. La Niña is another factor: the phenomenon cools the Pacific but creates favorable conditions for hurricanes in the Atlantic, allowing more room for air to rise and reducing wind shear, which can disrupt a storm's development. Meanwhile, in its Central Pacific forecast, NOAA says La Niña will likely bring below-average hurricane activity.

In a news conference, NOAA officials emphasized that it only takes one storm to devastate communities, including those far from landfall, per ABC7. “Hurricane Ida spanned nine states, demonstrating that anyone can be in the direct path of a hurricane and in danger from the remnants of a storm system,” said FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell, who urges everyone to visit to prepare for storms and other potential disasters. NOAA also released this year’s lineup of storm names, starting with Alex and ending with Walter. Officially, hurricane season runs June 1–November 30, although NOAA began tracking the year’s first tropical wave earlier this month, per ClickOrlando. Although no storms have formed yet, pre-season named storms did emerge in both 2020 and 2021. (More hurricane season stories.)

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