Atlantic hurricane season begins; forecasters expect it to be active

Meteorologists are likely to be busy with hurricanes again after a hyperactive 2020 season

CSU, NCSU and NOAA hurricane season forecasts
CSU, NCSU and NOAA hurricane season forecasts (Copyright 2021 by WSLS 10 - All rights reserved.)

It’s a fact of life for many meteorologists on the East and Gulf Coasts: the blood pressure goes up just a little bit every year when the calendar flips to June 1.

It’s the first day of the Atlantic hurricane season (for now) and it kicks off six months of tracking the tropics for damaging storms.

I say “for now” because there has been momentum within the meteorological community to change the start of the season to May 15.

The longest-lived tropical cyclones actually begin as waves of energy over Africa. As the energy moves west over the Atlantic Ocean, it feeds on the warm tropical waters and strengthens into a large low pressure system.

If the system is free from wind shear (rotation of the wind with height in the atmosphere) and African dust and has enough of its warm water source, it strengthens further into a tropical storm and/or hurricane.

How hurricanes form (Copyright 2021 by WSLS 10 - All rights reserved.)

The primary way these storms weaken? Interaction with land, which is typically not good news for inhabitants of coastal communities. Colder ocean waters and the presence of wind shear can also be factors in weakening hurricanes.

This hurricane season is forecast to be an above-average one, just like 2020. We are hoping it’s not QUITE as active as last year, which was a record-breaker for the Atlantic basin.

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