Another monster hurricane season in sight for 2022? Here’s what AccuWeather forecasters are predicting.

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the 2022 Atlantic hurricane season doesn’t officially start until June 1, but long-range forecasters from AccuWeather have already weighed in on how stormy they think this year will be.

Bottom line: They think we’re facing another extreme hurricane season, with as many as 16-20 named storms developing and six-eight of them becoming hurricanes. Of those hurricanes, forecasters believe three in five will develop into major hurricanes – with sustained winds of 111 mph or more.

They also believe that four to six tropical storms or hurricanes will directly impact the United States. This includes the continental United States as well as Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands.

Based on 30-year averages, the “normal” Atlantic hurricane season produces 14 named storms and seven hurricanes, three of which develop into major hurricanes (Category 3, Category 4, or Category 5) that cause the most of destruction.

Three to four named storms typically affect the United States during hurricane season — which runs from June 1 to November 30, but can trigger named storms as early as April or May.

AccuWeather forecasters believe the 2022 Atlantic hurricane season will be very active for the third year in a row. Here is their first outlook, released on March 30.AccuWeather

If this turns out to be a bad hurricane season, it would be the third straight year of above-normal hurricane activity.

The 2020 season has been the most active recordedwith 30 named storms in the Atlantic hurricane basin, and the 2021 season was the third most active season, with 21 named storms.

Key forces shaping this season

AccuWeather forecasters say two major factors helped shape their early predictions for an active hurricane season in 2022.

One is the warm surface temperatures in the three major water masses that make up the Atlantic hurricane basin – the Atlantic Ocean, the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea.

“Sea surface temperatures are above normal across much of the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean and even off the eastern seaboard of the United States, particularly the southeast coast of the United States, and these are critical areas for early season development,” said Dan Kottlowski, an AccuWeather hurricane expert and one of the forecasters involved in the 2022 outlook.

Warm water temperatures help fuel the development of tropical storms and hurricanes.

Widespread flooding in New Jersey after Hurricane Ida

The remnants of Hurricane Ida hit New Jersey in early September 2021, causing widespread flooding and killing 30 people. Pictured, heavy flooding surrounds SHI Stadium in Piscataway, home of the Rutgers University football team. Andrew Mills | NJ Advance Media for NJ.com

Another important factor in AccuWeather’s hurricane forecast for 2022 is the state of the La Niña climate model.

As with most hurricane seasons, natural weather patterns known as El Niño or La Niña tend to play a role in the development of many tropical systems.

Experts say a strong El Niño – which occurs when ocean temperatures in the tropical Pacific Ocean warm – tends to increase wind shear in the Atlantic hurricane basin, limiting the formation and the strength of tropical cyclones.

A strong La Niña – which develops when tropical Pacific waters are colder than normal – tends to favor storms with less wind shear, which makes it easier for tropical systems to develop and strengthen in the Atlantic Basin.

AccuWeather forecasters say a weak La Niña pattern is currently in place “and is expected to persist through the onset of the tropical season.”

Hurricane Ida and its aftermath in New Jersey

A man kayaks through the flooded streets of Manville Thursday, Sept. 2, 2021, after the remnants of Hurricane Ida dumped massive amounts of rain on many parts of New Jersey, causing widespread flooding and killing 30 people throughout the state.Ed Murray | NJ Advance Media for NJ.com

Even a weak La Niña will likely reduce the amount of wind shear in the atmosphere, helping to form tropical systems in the Atlantic, according to AccuWeather.

Kottlowski said if La Niña gets stronger this year, there’s a chance the number of named storms will exceed 20. On the other hand, if La Niña gets weaker than it already is or fades during the summer or early fall, it could reduce the number of named storms this year.

The forecasters of The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, better known as NOAA, typically release their forecast for Atlantic hurricane season in late May, closer to the start of the season. NOAA oversees National Hurricane Center.

Atlantic hurricane season - wind shear

Wind shear occurs when winds suddenly change speed or direction at different heights in the atmosphere. Experts say that when there is a lot of wind shear in the Atlantic hurricane basin, it usually limits the formation and strength of tropical storms and hurricanes. When there is less wind shear, more storms develop.AccuWeather

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Len Melisurgo can be reached at [email protected].


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