Increased Hurricane Activity Possible In 2024

Forecasters are predicting that the 2024 Atlantic hurricane season, which is still two and a half months away, could be very active. Experts caution that it may be too early to make official predictions, but warm sea surface temperatures in the Atlantic and the emergence of a La Niña in the Pacific could set the stage for potentially severe storms. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) will not release their forecast until May 23.

In 2018, Hurricane Florence was a Cat 4 that grew after passing over warm Atlantic Ocean waters.
Key to the formation of any tropical cyclone—known variously as hurricanes, typhoons, and cyclones depending on their location—is the combination of warm ocean temperatures and the absence of what is known as wind shear.
They also need surface water to be at a temperature of 79 degrees Fahrenheit (26 Celsius) or higher. The intensity of an individual storm owes more, however, to the heat content of the ocean’s top 330 feet or so. If that water is very shallow, it’ll stir that all up and maybe pull up some cold water. But if a large reservoir of warm water is present, the storm will keep pulling the water.

One reason why forecasters are predicting an active hurricane season because sea surface temperatures in the tropical Atlantic are currently at record highs, providing ample fuel for potential storms to develop.

Another important potential factor in this year’s season is developing in the Pacific Ocean, thousands of miles away, the El Niño-Southern Oscillation climate pattern.

El Niño reduces the likelihood of Atlantic hurricanes forming by creating increased wind shear, which inhibits hurricane activity. La Niña has the opposite impact by decreasing wind shear, which helps in the development of hurricanes.

In 2023, the ENSO was in an El Niño phase, but it is expected to transition to a neutral phase by the start of the 2024 season and then shift to a La Niña phase during peak months. This could lead to an extended and active hurricane season lasting into November.

So people living in close proximity should be prepared for the possibility of a tropical storm system rapidly intensifying and potentially reaching land. It is important to have a hurricane plan ready as these conditions can lead to quick escalation of the storm.

Reference- National Geographic, NOAA website, The Guardian, BBC, AccuWeathe, Clean Technica