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2024 Atlantic Hurricane Season: Brace for Impact as Forecasters Predict Record Activity and Severe Storms

As the 2024 Atlantic hurricane season kicks off, global weather agencies concur that the season is expected to be exceptionally activepossibly even one of the most intense on record.  

Forecasts from leading storm forecasting organizationssuch as NOAA, AccuWeather, Colorado State University (CSU), the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF), Tropical Storm Risk (TSR), and the UK Meteorological Office (UK Met)highlight a “hyperactive” season marked by elevated storm activity.  

Predictions range from 20 to 25 named storms, with 8 to 13 becoming hurricanes and 4 to 7 reaching major hurricane status (Category 3 or higher). This is a significant increase from the long-term averages of 14 named storms, 7 hurricanes, and 3 major hurricanes. The primary forces shaping this outlook include record warm sea surface temperatures (SSTs) and the expected shift from El Niño to La Niña, which typically enhances hurricane development by reducing wind shear. 

These agencies emphasize the role of the ongoing high-activity era that began in 1995, characterized by warmer SSTs and favorable atmospheric conditions. This trend is expected to continue in 2024, with SSTs in the MDR (Main Development Region) at near-record levels, promoting frequent and intense storm development. The transition from El Niño to La Niña conditions further supports this outlook by reducing vertical wind shear, which allows hurricanes to develop and intensify more easily. 

Several other climatic factors are driving the 2024 hurricane season’s heightened activity. The warm phase of the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation (AMO) is a significant factor, contributing to warmer SSTswhich can remain at record highs for over 400 daysand weaker trade winds. This warmth extends from the Gulf of Mexico to Africa, creating a vast area conducive to storm development. The anticipated La Niña conditions are expected to further enhance hurricane activity by reducing wind shear and promoting a more unstable atmosphere conducive to storm formation. Additionally, the expected stronger high-pressure system near Bermuda and the Azores is projected to steer more storms toward the Caribbean and the United States, thereby increasing the likelihood of landfalls.  

2024 is expected to be more active than recent years as SSTs and the influence of La Niña were not as pronounced in prior seasons.  

Agency Outlooks in Brief 

  • NOAA - predicts an above-normal season with 17-25 named storms and 8-13 hurricanes. The key factors include the warm AMO phase and anticipated La Niña conditions, which are likely to enhance hurricane activity by reducing wind shear. 
  • AccuWeather - forecasts 20-25 named storms and 8-12 hurricanes, driven by exceptionally warm SSTs and the transition from El Niño to La Niña. This season is expected to be more intense than the previous year, with a high likelihood of late-season activity extending into November. 
  • CSU - predicts 23 named storms and 11 hurricanes, with the highest hurricane forecast ever issued in their April outlook. This outlook is based on record warm SSTs and the likely transition to La Niña, creating a favorable environment for hurricane formation and intensification. 
  • ECMWF - forecasts 23 named storms and 13 hurricanes, with an Accumulated Cyclone Energy (ACE) level of 200% of the norm. The forecast highlights the unusually warm SSTs and the expected transition from El Niño to La Niña, which will reduce wind shear and promote storm development. 
  • TSR - predicts a hyper-active season with 24 named storms and 12 hurricanes. The forecast is driven by warmer-than-normal SSTs and the persistence of weak La Niña conditions, enhancing hurricane activity. 
  • UK Met Office - predicts 22 named storms and 12 hurricanes, with an ACE index of 212. The forecast emphasizes the anticipated La Niña conditions and warmer-than-average SSTs, which are conducive to storm formation and intensification. 

While all agencies predict an above-average season, there are slight variations in the number of storms and hurricanes forecasted. For instance, TSR and ECMWF forecast slightly higher numbers compared to NOAA and CSU. The key difference lies in the confidence levels and the emphasis on different climatic factors, such as the strength and impact of La Niña. 

Storm Readiness Has Never Been More Important  

Given the high activity forecasted, emergency managers, public safety officials, and elected officials must prioritize storm readiness. Coastal communities should review and update their disaster preparedness plans, ensuring that residents are informed and prepared for potential landfalls. The convergence of favorable conditions for hurricane development highlights the urgency of proactive measures to mitigate the impacts of the 2024 Atlantic hurricane season. 

The 2024 Atlantic hurricane season is shaping up to be one of the most active on record. With forecasts predicting significantly above-average storm activity, the need for preparedness cannot be overstated. Emergency managers, public safety officials, and residents in vulnerable regions must remain vigilant and take necessary precautions to safeguard lives and property. The combination of exceptionally warm SSTs and the transition to La Niña conditions sets the stage for a potentially severe and impactful hurricane season. 



Suzannah Jones
Associate Managing Director, Community & Infrastructure Services

Suzannah serves as Associate Managing Director for Witt O’Brien’s Community and Infrastructure Services practice. She has over 20 years of experience working in and with local, state, and federal agencies across emergency management mission areas including preparedness, response, recovery, and mitigation.

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