The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Climate Prediction Center issued its mid-point outlook for the 2021 Atlantic hurricane season on Aug. 4.
Conditions remain favorable for an above-average season, said Matthew Rosencrans, lead seasonal forecaster at the Climate Prediction Center. However, they are not as favorable as they were during the 2020 record-breaking season.
“A mix of competing oceanic and atmospheric conditions generally favor above-average activity for the remainder of the Atlantic hurricane season, including the potential return of La Nina in the months ahead,” Rosencrans said.
Atlantic sea surface temperatures are not expected to be as warm as last year, but reduced vertical wind shear and an enhanced west Africa monsoon could increase hurricane activity this year. In addition, conditions in place due to the ongoing warm phase of the Atlantic Multi-Decadal Oscillation, which has favored more active seasons since 1995, persist.
NOAA released its original outlook on May 20 just before the start of hurricane season on June 1. Experts predicted a 60% chance of an above-normal season, 30% chance of a near-normal season and 10% chance of a below-normal season. They said 13-20 named storms with winds of 39 mph or higher were likely to form, six-10 hurricanes with winds of 74 mph or higher and three-five major hurricanes which includes Categories 3, 4 and 5 with winds of 111 mph or higher.
An average season has 14 named storms, seven hurricanes and three major hurricanes.
Rosencrans said the mid-season outlook gave odds of 65% that this year would be an above-normal season, 25% of a near-normal season and 10% that it would be below normal. The experts say 15-21 named storms will form with seven-10 strengthening into a hurricane and three-five becoming a major hurricane.
The numbers include the named storms that have already formed as well as Hurricane Elsa, the earliest fifth named storm on record.
Rosencrans advises everyone to stay vigilant and to be prepared as the busiest part of the season is here. The peak of the season typically runs from mid-August to late October. Hurricane season ends Nov. 30.
Potential tropical storm
Pinellas County was in the long-range forecast cone of potential tropical storm six Tuesday morning. National Hurricane Center says it is likely to strengthen into Tropical Storm Fred sometime today.
It was located about 105 miles west of Guadeloupe and 270 miles east-southeast of Ponce Puerto Rico. Maximum sustained winds were 35 mph. It was moving west-northwest at 17 mph.
The potential cyclone is expected to pass near or over the U.S.
Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico late Tuesday and Tuesday night, and be near or over Hispaniola on Wednesday. It could bring tropical weather to Florida beginning early Saturday.
NHC has put odds of 90% it will become a tropical cyclone within 48 hours and within five days.
For information on preparing for tropical weather, visit www.pinellascounty.org/resident/disasters.htm.
For the latest hurricane forecast, visit https://www.nhc.noaa.gov.
Suzette Porter is TBN’s Pinellas County editor. She can be reached at email@example.com.