After Elsa become the first hurricane of 2021 and the earliest “E” storm in Atlantic basin history, experts are upping their projections for this season.
Colorado State University released an updated forecast Thursday that calls for 20 named storms, including nine hurricanes and four of those major (Category 3 or above).
Last month, CSU predicted 18 named storms, and eight hurricanes (four major).
“We have increased our forecast slightly and continue to forecast an above-average 2021 Atlantic basin hurricane season,” CSU’s report says. Current neutral ENSO (El Niño-Southern Oscillation) conditions are anticipated to persist for the next several months. Sea surface temperatures averaged across most of the tropical Atlantic are now near to slightly above normal, and most of the subtropical North Atlantic remains warmer than normal.”
Elsa largely spared South Florida but has been destructive as it moves up the U.S. East Coast, killing one person in Florida and causing a tornado at a Georgia Navy base.
“Elsa’s development and intensification into a hurricane in the tropical Atlantic also typically portends an active season,” CSU’s researchers wrote. “We anticipate an above-normal probability for major hurricanes making landfall along the continental United States coastline and in the Caribbean. 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. They should prepare the same for every season, regardless of how much activity is predicted.”
This comes after 2020 was a record-breaking hurricane season, bringing 30 named storms, the most ever in the Atlantic. Thirteen of those became hurricanes, six of them major. It was only the second time the Greek alphabet had to be used for names.
Colorado State is expected to update its projections again in August ahead of this hurricane season’s peak.
Seasonal #hurricane forecast from @ColoradoStateU increases numbers and calls for active 2021 Atlantic hurricane season. New forecast calls for 20 named storms (including the 5 that have already formed), 9 hurricanes and 4 major (Cat 3+) hurricanes. https://t.co/xbmJEkmawM pic.twitter.com/JdSs7MTGqg— Philip Klotzbach (@philklotzbach) July 8, 2021