Another busy hurricane season appears likely, although nothing like the record-setting series of storms produced last year, according to the federal hurricane forecast released Thursday.
The forecast from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration predicts six to 10 hurricanes, of which three to five could achieve major hurricane strength. A major hurricane is one that reaches at least Category 3 status, which requires winds of at least 111 mph. The agency predicts a total of 13 to 20 named storms, which means those with winds speeds of at least 39 mph.
This would be far fewer storms than last year’s record-setting season, which produced 30 named storms — which means hurricanes and tropical or subtropical storms — including 14 hurricanes and a record-tying seven major hurricanes.
Hurricane season runs June 1 through Nov. 30, with the peak coming in August, September and October. Several storms have appeared before June 1 in the past few years, leading to discussions of whether the official start to the season should be moved into May.
This season appears likely to get off to another early start. An area of stormy weather east of Bermuda has a 90% chance of developing into at least a subtropical depression over the next five days, according to the National Hurricane Center. If it became a subtropical storm, it would be named Ana and be the first named storm of the season.
How reliable are NOAA’s forecasts? Last year’s was pretty far off, although so were most predictions for what would turn out to be a record-setting year. NOAA predicted six to 10 hurricanes for 2020, a year that would produce 14. The year before that, however, NOAA nailed it, predicted four to eight hurricanes for a season that would produce six.