As the Atlantic basin enters peak hurricane season, forecasters at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration have updated their outlook to predict up to 20 named storms and 5 major hurricanes in 2022.

The Atlantic hurricane season officially began on June 1 and runs through Nov. 30. So far, we’ve seen three tropical storms strengthen to the point of getting named. None this year have strengthened into hurricanes, but the worst may be yet to come.

“We are now entering the peak months of the Atlantic hurricane season, August through October,” said Matthew Rosencrans, the lead hurricane forecaster at NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center. “Historically, this is when about 90% of all Atlantic tropical cyclone activity occurs.”

In NOAA’s updated forecast released Thursday, the agency predicts there will be 11 to 17 more named storms in 2022. Of those, they expect 6 to 10 will strengthen into hurricanes.

NOAA predicts three to five of those will turn into major hurricanes (storms with wind speeds of 111 mph or greater).

(Graphic courtesy NOAA)

While meteorologists can make predictions of how many storms may form, and how strong they may be, they’re not able to say which areas are most likely to be hit. “This is because landfalls are largely predictable within about one week of a storm potentially reaching a coastline,” Rosencrans explained.

NOAA’s original hurricane outlook issued in May called for a 65% chance of an above-normal season. Now, an above-normal season is 60% likely — slightly lower, but still the most probable outcome.

“While the tropics have been relatively quiet over the last month, remember that it only takes one landfalling storm to devastate a community,” Rosencrans said.

Despite the “relatively quiet” tropics, several factors — a persistent La Niña, above-normal sea surface temperatures, weak tropical trade winds and an active monsoon in West Africa — all indicate an active hurricane season is likely.

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