NOAA Predicts Another Busy Hurricane Season This Year

2022 will likely be the seventh consecutive year of above-average hurricane activity

Satellite image of two hurricanes
Hurricane Nora off the coast of Mexico and Hurricane Ida gaining strength in the Gulf of Mexico on August 28, 2021. NOAA via Wikimedia Commons under Public Domain

2022 will likely be the seventh-consecutive year of above-average hurricane activity

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has predicted a 65 percent chance of an above-average Atlantic hurricane season this year. If the predictions are accurate, this will be the seventh consecutive year of above-normal activity

For the 2022 season, lasting from June 1 to November 30, NOAA is predicting a range of 14 to 21 named storms (winds of 39 mph or higher). Six to ten of those could become hurricanes (winds of 74 mph or higher), including three to six major hurricanes (winds of 111 mph or higher).

The 30-year average is 14 named storms, seven hurricanes and three major hurricanes, well below the predictions for 2022 and the trends over the last few years, writes Seth Borenstein from the Associated Press.

“We are seeing these storms develop faster, they’re developing more frequently, and so it’s giving our state and local emergency managers less time to actually warn the public,” Deanne Criswell, the administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, tells NBC News’ Evan Bush. 

In the past five years, more Category 4 and 5 hurricanes have made landfall in the U.S. than in the previous 50 years combined, per the AP. 

2022 Atlantic Hurricane Season Outlook Pie Chart
A summary infographic showing hurricane season probability and numbers of named storms predicted from NOAA's 2022 Atlantic Hurricane Season Outlook.  NOAA

“You need only one bad storm to dramatically affect your life, if you fail to plan around this outlook, you’re planning to fail,” NOAA Administrator Rick Spinrad tells the AP. “You can take this outlook to the bank literally when it looks to protecting your property.”

NOAA exhausted their list of 21 storm names during the past two years. 2020 was the most active season on record, with 30 named storms, Spinrad said in a press conference earlier this week.  

“As we reflect on another potentially busy hurricane season, past storms — such as Superstorm Sandy, which devastated the New York metro area ten years ago — remind us that the impact of one storm can be felt for years,” Spinrad says in a statement. “Since Sandy, NOAA’s forecasting accuracy has continued to improve, allowing us to better predict the impacts of major hurricanes to lives and livelihoods.”

Factors such as La Niña—a climate pattern characterized by unusually cold ocean temperatures in the Equatorial Pacific—warmer-than-average sea surface temperatures, weaker tropical Atlantic trade winds and an active west African monsoon season contribute to this increased activity, per NOAA. All are a “component of climate change,” Spinrad explained in the press briefing. Climate change and the frequency and frequency and strength of storms are ongoing areas of NOAA research. 

“We can’t simply point to a particular storm, whether it’s a strong storm like Ida or any others, and say that’s climate change,” Spinrad said in the press conference. “The attribution is more in the patterns, the tendencies, the mode that we’re in.” 

Get the latest stories in your inbox every weekday.