JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The official start of the 2022 hurricane season may be two months away, but forecasters are already assembling their long-range forecasts – and seasoned residents are assessing their hurricane supplies and preparing their lists.
Several factors come into play when meteorologists make their early predictions on what we might expect in the coming season, including water temperatures from as far away as the tropical Pacific.
And while there is an official start and end to hurricane season, storms can and have developed throughout the year.
Here are a few answers to common questions as the predictions for this year’s season begin to arrive.
When does hurricane season begin and end?
The Atlantic hurricane season begins June 1 and runs through Nov. 30. The National Hurricane Center begins issuing regular tropical weather outlooks May 15.
The eastern Pacific hurricane season begins May 15 and runs through Nov. 30.
What are the experts predicting for the 2022 Atlantic hurricane season?
The 2021 hurricane season was the third most active on record and AccuWeather’s hurricane experts said the 2022 season could be very similar.
AccuWeather’s 2022 Atlantic hurricane forecast calls for 16 to 20 named storms, six to eight of which could become hurricanes. Three to five of those hurricanes could become classified as major, which means wind speeds of 111 mph or higher.
Four to six hurricanes could have a direct impact on the U.S., AccuWeather said.
NOAA is predicting La Niña will continue into summer, keeping tropical storm formation high. If La Niña persists through September, it would be the third time since 1950 the phenomenon has been around for three consecutive hurricane seasons.
Colorado State University will issue its first formal forecast for the 2022 season April 7. An earlier “qualitative discussion” issued in December gave the highest chance – 40% – of 13 to 16 named storms, with six to eight becoming hurricanes and two to three becoming major hurricanes.
What’s the difference between El Niño and La Niña and what impact do they have on hurricanes?
Water temperatures near the equator in the central and eastern parts of the Pacific Ocean play a role in the Atlantic’s hurricane season.
La Niña is characterized by water temperatures lower than average. La Niña’s biggest impact in the Atlantic basin is decreasing the amount of wind shear, which tears apart developing storms in the tropics. Lower wind shear increases the potential for a higher-than-normal number of tropical systems, according to AccuWeather.
El Niño is characterized by water temperatures higher than normal and higher wind shear, which hinders tropical development and can even tear apart weaker systems that have formed, according to AccuWeather.
While El Niño helps knock down storms with strong westerly wind shear, La Niña reduces vertical wind shear in the tropical Atlantic, which can promote favorable hurricane conditions.
La Niña was in place for both the 2020 and 2021 active Atlantic hurricane seasons.
An average season has 12 named storms, six hurricanes, and three major hurricanes, according to NOAA. There were more storms – 30 – in 2020 than any other season in history. Eleven of the storms made landfall in the continental U.S. Fourteen became hurricanes (top winds of 74 mph or greater), including seven major hurricanes (top winds of 111 mph or greater). This is the most storms on record, surpassing the 28 from 2005, and the second-highest number of hurricanes on record.
In 2021, there were 21 named tropical storms, making it the third most active year on record in terms of named storms, according to the National Hurricane Center.
Can there be a tropical storm or hurricane before the official start of hurricane season?
AccuWeather forecasters also said there is a high chance for a preseason storm to develop and that another active tropical season is expected. There are already indications that a named tropical system could spin up before the official start of the 2022 Atlantic hurricane season, Senior Meteorologist Paul Pastelok said in AccuWeather’s annual spring forecast.
Early tropical storms are common, and actually occur on average every four to five years, according to the National Hurricane Center. In 1938, an unnamed hurricane formed on Jan. 3; another formed March 6, 1908.
More recently, while most pre-season tropical storms formed in May, there also was Tropical Storm Ana on April 20, 2003.
When and how should you prepare for a hurricane?
You don’t (and shouldn’t) have to wait until a storm is approaching to prepare. Keeping and maintaining a disaster-preparedness kit is recommended for everyone who lives in an area regularly threatened by hurricanes.
Officials encourage residents to assemble a kit early. Doing so ensures there are adequate supplies available on store shelves and prevents a rush – and shortages – that regularly occur when a storm is imminent.
When is Florida’s tax-free holiday for disaster preparedness?
The Florida Legislature established the 2022 Disaster Preparedness Sales Tax Holiday for May 28 through June 10. The 14-day tax holiday removes the sales tax from certain items to help residents prepare for hurricane season.
Some examples of tax-free items include: flashlights and lanterns costing $40 or less; radios costing $50 or less; tarps costing $100 or less; coolers costing $60 or less; batteries costing $50 or less; smoke detectors, fire extinguishers, and carbon monoxide detectors costing $70 or less; and, generators costing $1,000 or less.
The holiday also includes a number of items related to the safe evacuation of household pets.
The bottom line: All agree residents should always be prepared for a storm.
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