Forecast for 2021 hurricane season: Another busy year

David Fleshler, South Florida Sun Sentinel
·2 min read

After everything that’s happened over the past year, we may feel like we deserve a quiet hurricane season.

But we’re unlikely to get one, according to a forecast released Thursday by Colorado State University.

The university, one of the centers for the study of violent tropical weather, predicted eight hurricanes this season, with an above-average chance that a major hurricane will strike the United States.

The forecast calls for a total of 17 named storms, which means tropical storms or hurricanes. An average season sees 12 named storms and 6.4 hurricanes.

“We are forecasting a well-above-average hurricane season,” said Phil Klotzbach, research scientist for Colorado State University’s Tropical Meteorology Project, in a presentation Thursday to the National Tropical Weather Conference.

The forecast cited two major reasons to expect a busy season. The waters of the Atlantic Ocean are warmer than normal, producing more of the energy that fuels hurricanes. And this year is unlikely to experience an El Niño, the warming of part of the Pacific Ocean that produces high-level winds over the Atlantic that can tear up storm systems before they can form hurricanes.

“We anticipate an above-average probability for major hurricanes making landfall along the continental United States coastline and in the Caribbean,” the forecast said.

The forecast, if it turns out to be accurate, would not be as bad as last year’s record-breaking season, which generated 30 named storms, including 13 hurricanes, exhausting the list of hurricane names selected for that year.

The official start of hurricane season is June 1. But there’s discussion of moving the date into May, since there have been several pre-season storms in the past few years.

Colorado State’s forecast is in line with a prediction released last month by AccuWeather, the private forecasting service, which said to expect seven to 10 hurricane, with three to five reaching major strength.

David Fleshler can be reached at dfleshler@sunsentinel.com and 954-356-4535.