The hurricane season is a distinct time of year when tropical cyclones — tropical depressions, tropical storms and hurricanes — usually develop.
Here in the U.S., we usually refer to the Atlantic hurricane season, as it’s those storms that most commonly affect the U.S., which extends from June 1 to Nov. 30.
For the 30-year climate period of 1991-2020, the average for the Atlantic hurricane season includes 14 named storms and seven hurricanes. The average for major hurricanes (category 3, 4 or 5) is three. The previous Atlantic storm averages, based on the period from 1981 to 2010, were 12 named storms, six hurricanes, and three major hurricanes.
Back in May 2022, forecasters at the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration’s Climate Prediction Center (NOAA CPC), predicted an above-average number of hurricanes for 2022. NOAA forecasted a likely range of 14 to 21 named storms (winds of 39 mph or higher), of which six to 10 could become hurricanes (winds of 74 mph or higher), including three to six major hurricanes (category 3, 4 or 5; with winds of 111 mph or higher).
NOAA provides these ranges with a 70% confidence. The prediction of an above-average hurricane season was attributed to ongoing La Niña that was forecasted to persist throughout the hurricane season, warmer-than-average sea surface temperatures in the Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean Sea, and weaker tropical Atlantic trade winds.
As of mid-November, there have been a total of 14 named storms, eight hurricanes, and two major hurricanes (Category 3 or above). A pretty good forecast, although a lower number of predicted major hurricanes. This is the seventh consecutive year with an above-average hurricane season.
The latest hurricane, Nicole, is likely to be the last one of the season and was the second-latest landfalling U.S. hurricane in history after Kate on Nov 21, 1985.
Steve Ackerman and Jonathan Martin, professors in the UW-Madison department of atmospheric and oceanic sciences, are guests on WHA radio (970 AM) at 11:45 a.m. the last Monday of each month. Send them your questions at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.