Advertisement
  1. News

AccuWeather forecasts 7th straight above-average hurricane season in 2022

While more active than usual, this year isn’t expected to be as busy as 2020 and 2021, says one group of researchers.
A washed-up sailboat leans against a railing bordering the waterfront walking path in Gulfport the morning after Tropical Storm Eta battered Tampa Bay in November 2020. Conditions are favorable for the Atlantic to produce more storms than average for the seventh year in a row.
A washed-up sailboat leans against a railing bordering the waterfront walking path in Gulfport the morning after Tropical Storm Eta battered Tampa Bay in November 2020. Conditions are favorable for the Atlantic to produce more storms than average for the seventh year in a row. [ MARTHA ASENCIO RHINE | Times ]
Published Apr. 6|Updated Apr. 7

While stowing away your coats and long-sleeved shirts this April, be sure to start getting your hurricane kit ready.

AccuWeather released its annual hurricane season forecast this week and its prediction is a familiar one: Conditions are favorable for the Atlantic to produce more storms than average for the seventh year in a row.

Related: Latest 2022 hurricane forecast: 19 named systems, 9 hurricanes, 4 major storms

Specifically, the private meteorological organization says there will be 16 to 20 named storms this summer, with six to eight strengthening into hurricanes and three to five becoming major storms. The 30-year average for a season, meanwhile, calls for 14 named storms and three major hurricanes.

The number of storms forecasted by AccuWeather in 2022 compared to last year and the average storm season.
The number of storms forecasted by AccuWeather in 2022 compared to last year and the average storm season. [ AccuWeather ]

The last below-average season came in 2015, when just 11 named storms formed.

Florida’s Gulf Coast and Panhandle are at a heightened risk this year because of the location of the Bermuda high — an area of pressure in the Atlantic that can direct storms to or away from the Sunshine State, says AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Dan Kottlowski. This year, he says, the high is farther south and will steer more storms into the Gulf of Mexico, particularly in the first months of the season.

“People in Tampa Bay have had a lot of close calls but not a direct hit,” Kottlowski said. “That’s largely because of luck and, with more storms headed into the Gulf of Mexico, people there need to be ready.”

One reason Kottlowski’s team predicts an active season this year is La Niña. When present, this weather phenomenon creates favorable conditions for storms to form and strengthen in the Atlantic Ocean by limiting wind shear.

Another factor is sea surface temperatures in the Caribbean and around Florida’s coast being warmer than usual. Key West, as one example, had water temperatures between 76 and 78 degrees at the end of March, which is 1.6 to 3.8 degrees above normal, Kottlowski said. That warm water acts as fuel for hurricanes.

This year’s forecast will likely come as no surprise to seasoned Floridians. The state has historically been the most common landing spot for tropical systems, with 120 hurricanes and 37 major hurricanes making landfall here since 1851. The state with the next-most impacts, Texas, has just 64 hurricane landfalls in its history.

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

But Kottlowski isn’t worried about how longtime Floridians will react to hurricanes this season. Instead, he’s concerned for the thousands of new residents that have flocked to the Sunshine State and are yet to experience a major storm.

“There are people who’ve moved to Florida in the past five years who think they understand hurricane season because of the close calls,” Kottlowski said. “But being brushed by a hurricane is not the same as being in its path. I fear the close calls will create a dangerous, false sense of security.”

Keep up with Tampa Bay’s top headlines

Keep up with Tampa Bay’s top headlines

Subscribe to our free DayStarter newsletter

We’ll deliver the latest news and information you need to know every weekday morning.

You’re all signed up!

Want more of our free, weekly newsletters in your inbox? Let’s get started.

Explore all your options

Kottlowski encourages everyone to check to see if they live in a flood zone, brush up on their evacuation route and follow their county’s emergency management department on social media, especially for new residents.

A graphic showing how the Bermuda high is expected to push tropical systems farther west in 2022, making the Gulf of Mexico a potential hot spot for hurricanes and tropical storms.
A graphic showing how the Bermuda high is expected to push tropical systems farther west in 2022, making the Gulf of Mexico a potential hot spot for hurricanes and tropical storms. [ AccuWeather ]

The biggest threat to Tampa Bay each storm season is the possibility of a storm entering the Gulf of Mexico and curving back toward us, Kottlowski said. If a major hurricane were ever to cross the Sunshine Skyway Bridge and enter Tampa Bay, he says it would be “beyond catastrophic.”

While it’s not yet hurricane season, which runs from June 1 through November, we’ve reached the time of year when storm season forecasts begin to roll in. AccuWeather was the first group to release its forecast and will soon be followed by Colorado State University and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration later this month.

The Climate Adaptation Center in Sarasota says it will release its annual forecast on April 15. Its lead researcher, Bob Bunting, said on Feb. 28 that he expects this season to again be more active than usual.

If there is any solace in an active-season forecast, it’s this: The 2022 forecast, if accurate, would make for a much tamer hurricane season than the last two years. Combined, the 2020 and 2021 seasons produced 51 named storms and 21 hurricanes.

Related: From Alex to Walter, these are the hurricane names to know for 2022
Advertisement

This site no longer supports your current browser. Please use a modern and up-to-date browser version for the best experience.

Chrome Firefox Safari Edge