Colorado State University released their 2022 Atlantic Hurricane Season Forecast today. Researchers are predicting this season to be above-average with 19 named storms and nine hurricanes expected. Of the nine hurricanes, four are expected to be major.
Looking at the averages from 1991-2020, there are normally 14 named storms, 7 hurricanes and 3 major hurricanes. A major hurricane has sustained winds of 111 mph or higher, corresponding to a category 3,4 or 5 on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale.
2022 is forecast to come in above-average as the current weak La Niña pattern is expected to transition to neutral ENSO by this summer/fall and the chance of a significant El Niño appears unlikely.
During La Niña, westerly winds high in the atmosphere weaken, allowing more Atlantic hurricanes to develop. However, El Niño produces stronger westerly wind at upper levels of the atmosphere across the tropical Atlantic which increases wind shear, basically shearing the tops from developing storms before a healthy circulation can form. El Niño events generally suppress Atlantic hurricane activity.
Sea surface temperatures averaged across the eastern and central tropical Atlantic are currently near average, while Caribbean and subtropical Atlantic sea surface temperatures are warmer than normal. Warmer water fuels more energetic storms.
The forecasters at CSU anticipate an above-average probability for major hurricanes making landfall along the continental United States coastline and in the Caribbean.
As is the case with all hurricane seasons, coastal residents are reminded that it only takes one hurricane making landfall to make it an active season for them. You should prepare the same for every season, regardless of how much activity is predicted.