Very Active 2024 Atlantic Hurricane Season in the Forecast

Even though the official start to the 2024 Atlantic Hurricane season is still almost two months away, attention is turning toward the tropics. Colorado State University’s (CSU) Tropical Weather and Climate Research team led by Dr. Phil Klotzbach has just released its first 2024 Atlantic hurricane season forecast. Two words that sum up the outlook: “extremely active.”

According to Klotzbach and crew, the 2024 Atlantic hurricane season will produce 23 named storms11 of which will be hurricanes; and 5 of those developing into major hurricanes (categories 3-5). All of these figures represent well above-normal totals.

A major factor in the forecasted uptick in storm activity is the expected shift from El Niño (ENSO) climate pattern back to La Niña in time for peak season (August to October). Characteristics of El Niño normally quash tropical activity in the Atlantic basin with its elevated wind shear and cooler waters. La Niña, on the other hand, is known to produce conditions much more conducive for storm development and intensification.

In addition to the climate phase shift, water temperature anomalies have been reported across the Atlantic. Some sea surface temperatures in early February reflected readings normally seen in July!

A portion of CSU’s forecast summary reads: “When waters in the eastern and central tropical and subtropical Atlantic are much warmer than normal in the spring, it tends to force a weaker subtropical high and associated weaker winds blowing across the tropical Atlantic. These conditions will likely lead to a continuation of well above-average water temperatures in the tropical Atlantic for the peak of the 2024 Atlantic hurricane season.”

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Recently, AccuWeather also released its long-range forecast for the 2024 Atlantic hurricane season. Its outlook, too, is predicting a very active storm season. In what its experts say could be a “potentially explosive” Atlantic hurricane season, AccuWeather’s official forecast calls for 20 to 25 named storms; 8 to 12 of those developing into hurricanes; and 4 to 7 of those reaching major status.

The 2023 Atlantic hurricane season, despite enduring a strong El Niño phase, still finished as fourth most active season since recordkeeping. Major Hurricane Idalia was the standout in the storm lineup, re-emphasizing the time-old saying, “All it takes is one.”

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