In their outlook for the 2022 hurricane season, meteorologists at Colorado State University predict a busier-than-average storm season with more named hurricanes than usual.
The university’s forecast, released Thursday, calls for 19 named storms this year.
Strong tropical storms get names to reduce confusion and help meteorologists communicate each storm’s danger to the public, according to the National Hurricane Center. Between 1991 and 2020, there were 14 named storms per year on average, according to CSU.
A tropical storm gets a name when its wind speeds surpass 39 mph. When winds top 74 mph, the storm becomes a hurricane but retains its name.
Of the 19 named storms predicted this year, the CSU outlook expects nine to strengthen into hurricanes. Of those nine hurricanes, four are expected to be “major hurricanes.”
“As is the case with all hurricane seasons, coastal residents are reminded that it only takes one hurricane making landfall to make it an active season for them,” the forecast reads. “They should prepare the same for every season, regardless of how much activity is predicted.”
An average year has 27 hurricane days and 69.4 named storm days, the CSU meteorologists said. In 2022, they expect there to be 35 hurricane days and 90 named storm days.
The reason the team expects a more active storm season than usual has to do with the current La Niña conditions, which are lasting longer than expected. La Niña is expected to transition to an “ENSO-neutral” pattern (meaning neither La Niña nor El Niño conditions) sometime in the fall, but it seems unlikely that we’ll switch to an El Niño pattern in time for hurricane season.
“El Niño typically reduces Atlantic hurricane activity through increases in vertical wind shear,” explained CSU researchers Philip Klotzbach and Michael Bell in their report, but that seems unlikely in 2022.
Hurricane season in the Atlantic starts June 1 and lasts until Nov. 30. The meteorologists at CSU are set to update their hurricane forecast as we get closer, with the next outlook coming on June 2.