The 2021 hurricane season is already off to a record start in the United States. To date, five named storms have formed in the Atlantic — including Hurricane Elsa, which became a hurricane July 2, the earliest fifth-named Atlantic hurricane since 1966. Elsa made landfall July 7 in the Florida Panhandle as a Category 1 storm.
Now halfway through the hurricane season, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Climate Prediction Center released its annual mid-season update Aug. 4, suggesting conditions are ripe for another above-average number of storms. The agency is predicting a busy, but not record-breaking, season with 15 to 21 named storms (winds of 39 mph [62 kph] or greater). That includes seven to 10 hurricanes, three to five of those Category 3, 4 or 5.
NOAA's May 2021 Atlantic Hurricane Season Outlook predicted 13 to 20 named storms, with six to 10 of those hurricanes. Meteorologists analyzed a mix of atmospheric and oceanic conditions when updating the original forecast.
"After a record-setting start, the 2021 Atlantic hurricane season does not show any signs of relenting as it enters the peak months ahead," NOAA administrator Rick Spinrad, Ph.D., said in a press statement.