For the seventh straight year, forecasters at National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) Climate Prediction Center are expecting a busy 2022 Atlantic hurricane season. The annual hurricane forecast, which was announced May 24, 2022, suggests there could be as many as 14 to 21 named hurricanes, with three to six of those reaching Category 3 or higher.
The 2022 Atlantic hurricane season officially starts June 1, 2022, and lasts through November.
Scientists attribute the increase in hurricane activity for the 2022 season to several factors, including:
- the La Niña that is likely to continue throughout the hurricane season
- warmer-than-average surface temperatures in the Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean Sea
- weaker tropical Atlantic trade winds
- an enhanced west African monsoon
West African monsoons create African easterly waves, which feed many of the strongest Atlantic hurricanes.
"As we reflect on another potentially busy hurricane season, past storms — such as Superstorm Sandy, which devastated the New York metro area 10 years ago — remind us that the impact of one storm can be felt for years," NOAA Administrator Rick Spinrad, Ph.D. said in a press statement. "Since Sandy, NOAA's forecasting accuracy has continued to improve, allowing us to better predict the impacts of major hurricanes to lives and livelihoods."
More Major Storms
Major hurricanes, including 2021's Hurricane Ida, which made landfall in Louisiana as a Category 4 and is tied for the fifth strongest hurricane to ever hit the U.S., are the biggest concern. These massive storms can intensify fast, leaving residents no time to evacuate or prepare. The rains they dump also can cause storm surges and catastrophic flooding, even far inland.
Hurricane Laura in 2020, for instance, entered the Gulf of Mexico as a Category 1 Aug. 25, 2020, around 10 a.m. CDT. But by 1 p.m. the next day, Hurricane Laura reached Category 4 status with winds as high as 150 miles per hour (241.4 kilometers per hour). The eye of the storm made landfall around Lake Charles, Louisiana, as the strongest hurricane to hit Louisiana since 1851.
By the time Hurricane Laura weakened, storm surges were recorded between 13 and 17.1 feet (3.9 and 5.2 meters), and as much as 12 inches (30 centimeters) of rain fell across southern Louisiana.
In 2021, NOAA aircraft flew more than 462 mission hours to support hurricane forecasting. Data collected helps NOAA accurately predict storms, including Hurricane Ida. After Ida made landfall, it continued to cause severe flooding in the Northeast as an extratropical low.
The 2022 season comes on the heels of two of the busiest Atlantic seasons ever — the 2020 and 2021 Atlantic seasons. Together they produced 51 combined named storms and the most hurricanes in history to make landfall in the United States.