Lee Goldberg explains why 2021 Atlantic hurricane season will be more active

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Friday, May 21, 2021
Above-normal Atlantic Hurricane Season expected, NOAA says
NOAA released its outlook for the 2021 Atlantic Hurricane Season on Wednesday.

NEW YORK (WABC) -- The Atlantic hurricane season will be busier than normal, but it's unlikely to be as crazy as 2020's record-shattering year, meteorologists said Thursday.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration forecasted that the hurricane season, which runs from June through November, will see 13 to 20 named storms. Six to 10 of those storms will become hurricanes and three to five will be major hurricanes with winds of more than 110 mph, the agency predicted.

Since 1990, a typical season sees 14 named storms, seven hurricanes and three major hurricanes - a climate normal that has increased in recent decades. There's a 60% chance that this hurricane season will be busier than normal and only a 10% chance it will be below normal, NOAA said.

Eyewitness News Chief Meteorologist Lee Goldberg explained why this 2021 season will be more active:

-Higher than normal sea surface temperature in the tropical Atlantic and Caribbean

-Less atmospheric shear over the tropical Atlantic

-Enhanced west African monsoon

Lead agency forecaster Matthew Rosencrans agreed and said there is also no El Nino weather event, the natural temporary warming of the central Pacific that squelches Atlantic hurricane activity.

Atlantic waters are nearly 0.68 degrees warmer than normal, which is not as hot as 2020 when they were 1 degree above normal, Rosencrans said.

Last year, there were 30 named storms - so many that meteorologists ran out of names and dipped into the Greek alphabet to identify them. There were 14 hurricanes last year, seven of them major.

Earlier this year, meteorologists decided to ditch the Greek alphabet after the normal list of names runs out, instead creating a special overflow list. Seven of last year's storms caused more than $1 billion in damage.

As if on cue, stormy weather popped up northeast of Bermuda this week, with the National Hurricane Center giving the system a 90% chance of becoming a named storm in the next five days. It would be called Ana and is likely to be short-lived and keep away from land. About half the years in the last decade have had named storms before the June 1 start of hurricane season, Rosencrans said.

NOAA also issued seasonal hurricane outlooks for the Eastern and Central Pacific basins, and will provide an update to the Atlantic outlook in early August, just prior to the peak of the season.

(The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

RELATED | Weather or Not with Lee Goldberg: Changing Climates

Meteorologist Lee Goldberg explores the changing climates in this episode of Weather or Not.


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