A lull in tropical activity that has dragged on for more than a month will likely hit an abrupt end soon, according to forecasters at Colorado State University, who expect an outbreak of hurricanes that will make 2022 among the most active seasons in history.
In a forecast issued Thursday, Colorado State meteorologists called for 18 named storms in the Atlantic basin, with 8 becoming hurricanes (sustained winds of 74 mph or higher) and 4 reaching major hurricane status (category 3, or sustained winds of 111 mph or higher).
Only three named storms have formed so far this year, and none have made it to hurricane strength.
Forecasters put the chances of a potentially devastating major hurricane hitting somewhere in the U.S. at 68%—significantly higher than the 52% annual average over the past century.
The East Coast and the Gulf Coast each have a 43% chance of dealing with a major hurricane strike this season, according to Colorado State.
Hurricane season typically ramps up in August, with the historical peak in activity falling on September 10, before it starts decreasing in October and ceases by the end of November.
An average season has 14 named storms, 7 hurricanes and 3 major hurricanes.
What To Watch For
There aren’t any imminent threats, as no new storms are expected over at least the next five days, according to the National Hurricane Center. The next storm will be named “Danielle.”
Colorado State meteorologists noted this season “is exhibiting similar characteristics” to last year’s, which also had no activity between mid-July and mid-August. The 2021 season went on to have 21 named storms, the third-most ever in a single season, with 15 forming between August 11 and September 29. The forecasters cited a La Niña climate pattern as the primary factor behind an expected increase in activity this year, since it leads to increased sea-surface temperatures and lower wind shear across the Atlantic basin, which promotes storm formation. Colorado State’s forecast is slightly less dire than the seasonal outlook it issued in early July, reflecting the slowdown in activity since Tropical Storm Colin dissipated July 3. The university pioneered long-term hurricane forecasting when it released its first seasonal outlook in 1984.
Heat waves that have afflicted the U.S. throughout the summer could offer some protection from hurricanes if they persist. That’s because the stifling temperatures are caused by heat domes—areas of high pressure that cause stagnant air and limit cloud formation. Steering patterns keep tropical cyclones moving along the periphery of high pressure systems, rather than into them.