Revised forecast calls for more storms during hurricane season

Satellite imagery of a hurricane.

For the latest information on storm activity in the Cayman Islands, as well as information on how to prepare for hurricane season, visit Storm Centre.

Forecasters at Colorado State University have increased the number of storms they expect to form during the 2021 Atlantic hurricane season.

The latest forecast, which was issued on Thursday, 8 July, calls for an increased number of named storms, from 18 to 20, as well as nine hurricanes – one more than the previous prediction. The number of expected major hurricanes remains at four.

“The information obtained through early July 2021 indicates that the 2021 Atlantic hurricane season will have activity above the 1991-2020 average,” the forecast stated.

Each year, the hurricane season begins on 1 June. This year, discussions at the annual regional hurricane conference proposed the start date be moved to 15 May. However, this was voted down.

As of 8 July, there have been five named storms so far this season: Ana, Bill, Claudette, Danny and Elsa. Elsa was the first hurricane of the season, which developed into a Category 1 storm on 6 July, after it had passed Cayman.

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The new forecast falls in line with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s  May forecast, which called for 20 named storms and between six and 10 hurricanes.

Each year when issuing its own forecast, the Cayman Islands National Weather Service relies heavily on the forecasts of both CSU and NOAA.

“The models that they are quoting from are generated by multi-million-dollar machines which run hundreds of simulations. That, coupled with a whole host of scientists who are truly experts in their fields, mean we tend to rely on their expertise,” said NWS forecaster Gilbert Miller.

In a statement, CSU said when arriving at its forecast, it took into account “statistical/dynamical models” which reveal slightly above-normal sea-surface temperatures and a weakened El Niño-Southern Oscillation.

As of press deadline, the NWS had not yet adopted the new forecast; however, Miller urged Cayman’s residents not to be intimidated by the numbers.

“Having a hurricane in the early part of the season is not necessarily an indication of what people should expect for the remainder of the season,” said Miller. “These numbers are predictions, which are likely to change in response to environmental conditions, and even then, those conditions are subject to change quickly. So, people should remain focussed on being prepared.”

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