Forecasters expect above-average 2021 hurricane season

Forecasters say this year’s Atlantic hurricane season will be above average, with an expected 17 named storms, including eight hurricanes.

In a pre-season forecast released Thursday, 8 April,  Colorado State University’s Tropical Meteorology Project also said that four of the projected eight hurricanes are expected to reach major hurricane strength of Category 3, 4 or 5.

“This forecast is based on an extended-range early April statistical prediction scheme that was developed using 38 years of past data,” read a statement issued by CSU.

Each year, Cayman Islands National Weather Service forecasters adopt the predictions from CSU and the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which will release its 2021 hurricane season progections in late May.

“The Colorado State University team led by Mr. Philip Klotzbach and Mr. Michael Bell provides updated prediction throughout the year while NOAA’s representatives provide a forecast in May each year,” a National Weather Service statement said.

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The 2021 hurricane season is expected to be the sixth consecutive above-average season. An average hurricane season produces 12 named storms, six hurricanes and three major hurricanes.

Above-average sea surface temperatures in parts of the Atlantic basin, along with a weakening El Niño, are the driving factors behind CSU’s predictions.

“We anticipate an above-average probability for major hurricanes making landfall along the continental United States coastline and in the Caribbean,” the CSU said.

The last major storm to hit the Cayman Islands directly was Hurricane Paloma in 2008, which made landfall in Cayman Brac. Last year, Hurricane Eta was the storm that came closest to the Cayman Islands, at 60 miles north of Grand Cayman, resulting in uprooted trees and downed power lines across the island.

The 2020 hurricane season was the most active in recorded history. In total, there were 31 tropical depressions and 30 named storms, 13 of which became hurricanes with six developing into major hurricanes.

The 2020 season was the second time the Greek alphabet had to be used to name storms, after the pre-approved storm names were exhausted. The Greek alphabet has since been retired.

Hurricane season runs from 1 June to 30 Nov. To view the storm names for the 2021 season click here.

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