2021 Hurricane Season: Experts project ‘above normal’ activity could generate 17 named storms

The 2021 Atlantic hurricane season could spawn as many as 17 named storms, including eight potential hurricanes, four of which could be classified as major, Colorado State University experts reported Thursday.

If the forecast holds, the 2021 season would be the United States’ sixth consecutive one labeled “above normal,” with the average Atlantic hurricane season generating 12 tropical storms, six of which are classified as hurricanes.

The 2020 season more than doubled those figures, however, with 30 named storms yielding 13 hurricanes, several of which ravaged U.S. coastlines, inundated inland communities and exposed ailing infrastructure in several major U.S. cities.

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Hurricane season lasts from June 1 until Nov. 30. Tropical storms form when maximum sustained winds reach at least 39 mph. A storm is classified as a hurricane once maximum sustained winds reach 74 mph, and any storm reaching at least 111 mph is classified as a “major” hurricane.”

The CSU forecasters indicated there is a 69% chance at least one of the potential four major hurricanes projected for 2021 will make landfall somewhere in the United States, USA Today reported.

CSU Meteorologist Phil Klotzbach said that the lack of El Nino and a warmer than normal subtropical Atlantic could contribute to the above-average forecast, but reminded anyone living in a potential storm’s path to remain guarded, WLOX reported.

“As is the case with all hurricane seasons, coastal residents are reminded that it only takes one hurricane making landfall to make it an active season for them. They should prepare the same for every season, regardless of how much activity is predicted,” he added.

Klotzbach, a research scientist in CSU’s department of atmospheric science, has served as first author on CSU’s seasonal hurricane forecasts for the Atlantic basin since 2006. He is also credited with developing the 2-week forecasts currently being issued during the peak months of the hurricane season between August and October.

Klotzbach said previous seasons with similar atmospheric setups to the 2021 projections include 1996, 2001, 2008, 2011 and 2017, USA Today reported.

“All of our analog seasons had above-average Atlantic hurricane activity, with 1996 and 2017 being extremely active seasons,” Klotzbach said.

Federal forecasters from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration will issue their prediction for the season in May, while CSU forecasters are expected to update their predictions at least three times over the next several months, USA Today reported.

The first named storm of the 2021 Atlantic hurricane season will be Ana, followed by Bill, Claudette, Danny, Elsa, Fred and Grace.