2024 Hurricane Season could prove to be extremely active

Once again this year the sea surface temperature anomalies of the Tropical Atlantic are much warmer. During the 2023 hurricane season we had warm waters along with el Niño conditions combined with the very warm waters. We saw a very active season then.

This year, all signals are pointing to a transition to la Niña, This pattern typically means lighter winds in the Tropical Atlantic which leads to more favorable conditions because of less wind shear. When you combine this with warm SST, the ideal conditions are starting to form in the Atlantic basin. For this reason, Colorado State put out a ominous forecast for the upcoming season. The forecast includes 23 named storms, 11 of those becoming hurricanes, and 5 of those becoming major hurricanes. If these numbers come to fruition, it will be an extremely active season.

The numbers do not tell us where the storms may end up going, but if we have more storms, the chances increase that one will eventually affect us. The names for the upcoming season are as follows:

The hurricane season runs from June 1st to November 30th. Be sure to have a plan for you and your family. Know if you are in an evacuation zone and have a hurricane supply kit.

2023 Hurricane Season ranks as one of the most active on record

Record warm waters in the Atlantic Ocean aided in an active 2023 hurricane season for the Atlantic basin.

With a total of 20 named storms, the season now ranks 4th for the most named storms in a year since 1950.

Despite an active hurricane season and a hit to Florida’s Big Bend, the majority of storms stayed in open waters without bringing impacts to land.

Of those 20 storms, 7 became hurricanes with 3 strengthening into major hurricanes (category 3 or higher).

An average season has 14 named storms, 7 hurricanes and 3 major hurricanes.

While this season reaches into the record books for the number of named storms, only one hurricane made landfall in the U.S. And that storm hit close to home.

Hurricane Idalia made landfall as a Category 3 hurricane on Florida’s Gulf Coast, near Keaton Beach, on August 30.

Idalia is the first major hurricane on record to make landfall in this portion of the Big Bend. The storm had maximum sustained winds around 125mph and storm surge between 7 and 12 feet across coastal counties.

Idalia formed in the northwestern Caribbean and strengthened into a Category 4 hurricane as it moved over extremely warm sea surface temperatures. Just before making landfall, the storm dropped to Category 3 strength.

Hurricane Idalia caused serious flooding across Tampa Bay as the storm skirted by, but impacts could have been worse as the area didn’t get extreme storm surge.

Check out some pictures around the Tampa Bay area after Hurricane Idalia:

October 1921 is last time Tampa was hit by a major hurricane, known as the Tarpon Springs storm, which brought storm surge estimated to be 11 feet.

Hurricane Tammy is the other that made landfall during the 2023 Atlantic season. It hit Barbuda in the Leeward Islands as a Category 1 storm with 85 mph winds.

The 2023 Atlantic hurricane season fell pretty close in line with forecasts from NOAA’S Climate Prediction Center. In August, forecasters increased their prediction to a 60% chance for an above-normal Atlantic hurricane season due to a strong El Niño.

The 2023 Atlantic hurricane season probability and number of named storms. Credit: NOAA.

NOAA’s outlook called for 14-21 named storms through November 30, with 2-5 becoming major hurricanes.

Other landfalls during the 2023 season were Tropical Storm Harold, Tropical Storm Ophelia and Hurricane Lee.

Tropical Storm Harold, which never reached hurricane strength, made landfall on the Texas Gulf Coast near South Padre Island on August 22.

Hurricane Lee made landfall in Nova Scotia, Canada as a post-tropical cyclone on September 16. The storm tracked across the Atlantic coast, causing dangerous surf and rip currents for many eastern states before moving onshore.

Hurricane Lee rapidly intensified into a Category 5 hurricane and made records based on where it developed. Lee is the farthest southeast a Cat 5 hurricane has been observed in the Atlantic on record.

On September 23, Tropical Storm Ophelia made landfall on Emerald Isle, North Carolina. The tropical storm delivered 70mph winds, damaging winds, along with coastal flooding and overflowing rivers.

We even had to turn our attention to the eastern Pacific, where the strongest hurricane of 2023 hit southern Mexico. Hurricane Otis made landfall as a Category 5 hurricane on October 25 in Acapulco after rapidly intensifying 110mph in just a day.

The first forecasts for the 2024 Atlantic hurricane season are expected in April 2024, as hurricane season starts June 1 and runs through Nov 30.