Anticipating the active Atlantic hurricane season: ‘It’s better if we have a relatively calm year’

This outlook is in line with generally warmer-than-normal Atlantic and Caribbean seas.

The most active Atlantic hurricane season since 2015 is forecast to be a repeat of last year’s, with 21 named storms, nine hurricanes and four major hurricanes, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said Thursday.

NOAA also said a reduction in tropical storm activity since 1981 has caused “substantial climate changes” in the Atlantic and other areas of the world.

“The Northeast suffered huge storm losses from major storms” last year, said Brian McNoldy, a hurricane researcher at Florida International University. He said a warming planet is likely to produce a higher chance of major hurricanes striking the Northeast in the future.

“[An Atlantic hurricane] to the east of Maine in the winter of 2035 is not unheard of,” McNoldy said.

It was the sixth time in the last 30 years that NOAA has projected a 14- to 20-percent increase in major hurricanes in the Atlantic since 1981.

The best chance of those “lasts are later in the summer” and in September, said Gerry Bell, lead seasonal hurricane forecaster at NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center.

NOAA estimated there is a 37 percent chance that the 14 to 20 percent of major hurricanes would strike the coast of the southeastern U.S. by Labor Day.

Two of the five biggest landfalls of Atlantic hurricanes since 1981, in 2004 and 2008, occurred within 500 miles of the Carolinas, McNoldy said.

NOAA anticipates that the storm surge and their aftermath will be “much worse than in recent years” because of sea level rise and increased atmospheric moisture.

“We are also allocating larger resources” in response to hurricanes in the Atlantic, Bell said.

In addition to preparing for hurricanes, people should also be aware of other hazards associated with high sea levels and increased moisture, including more sand storms.

If you have to go outside, stay away from tall buildings and tall creeks. Also, stay away from large summits or debris in the ground.

Floods still pose the biggest threat, Bell said. He said sea levels are rising 8 to 11 inches a century, more than twice the pace of global warming.

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