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From Alex to Walter, expect more hurricanes than normal, researcher says

It’s three months until the start of the Atlantic season, but they’re coming early these days.
A jogger makes his way along Bayshore Blvd., in Tampa, Fla. as a wave breaks over a seawall, during the aftermath of Tropical Storm Elsa Wednesday, July 7, 2021. The Tampa Bay area was spared major damage as Elsa stayed off shore as it passed by. (AP Photo/John Raoux)
A jogger makes his way along Bayshore Blvd., in Tampa, Fla. as a wave breaks over a seawall, during the aftermath of Tropical Storm Elsa Wednesday, July 7, 2021. The Tampa Bay area was spared major damage as Elsa stayed off shore as it passed by. (AP Photo/John Raoux) [ JOHN RAOUX | AP ]
Published Feb. 28|Updated Mar. 1

The first day of March on Tuesday means we’re three months from the start of the 2022 hurricane season.

While the official start date is June 1, a named storm has formed in May for the past seven seasons, so Florida may encounter one or more named storms early. Here’s what the 2022 Atlantic hurricane season storms would be called:

  • Alex
  • Bonnie
  • Colin
  • Danielle
  • Earl
  • Fiona
  • Gastone
  • Hermine
  • Ian
  • Julia
  • Karl
  • Lisa
  • Martin
  • Nicole
  • Owen
  • Paula
  • Richard
  • Shary
  • Tobias
  • Virginie
  • Walter
A pickup truck is partially submerged near S. Bayshore Blvd. in Safety Harbor as Tropical Storm Eta sends torrential downpours, storm surge flooding and wind across the Tampa Bay Area on Nov. 12, 2020.
A pickup truck is partially submerged near S. Bayshore Blvd. in Safety Harbor as Tropical Storm Eta sends torrential downpours, storm surge flooding and wind across the Tampa Bay Area on Nov. 12, 2020. [ LUIS SANTANA | Times ]

It’s too early to try forecasting the number of storms and hurricanes, said Bob Bunting, chief executive of the nonprofit Climate Adaptation Center in Sarasota. But Bunting said he expects another season above the 30-year average of 15 named storms.

If Bunting is right, it would be the seventh above-average season in a row. The last below-average season was 2015, when just 11 storms formed.

The Climate Adaptation Center and researchers from Colorado State University and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration will issue more precise forecasts for hurricane season in mid-April.

The Atlantic has been particularly active the past two years. Combined, the two seasons produced 51 named storms and 21 hurricanes.

Despite these high numbers, Tampa Bay escaped both seasons mostly unscathed. No hurricane made landfall here, with the most significant damage coming from flooding produced by Tropical Storm Eta on Nov. 11, 2020. Still, scientists warn, it only takes one storm to cause devastation for those who live in hurricanes’ paths.

Correction: The list of hurricane names was incomplete in an earlier version of this story.

Related: Tampa Bay has huge flood risk. What should we do about it?
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