US forecasters see large number of major hurricanes in 2024

  • Reuters
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US forecasters see large number of major hurricanes in 2024
Credit: © Reuters.

By Erwin Seba

HOUSTON (Reuters) -U.S. government forecasters said on Thursday up to seven major hurricanes may form in an "extraordinary" 2024 Atlantic hurricane season beginning June 1.

In a May forecast exceeding that issued ahead of 2005's record-breaking season that spawned hurricanes Katrina and Rita, forecasters expect between four and seven major hurricanes. Those events are among a projected eight to 13 hurricanes, which could result from an expected 17 to 25 named tropical storms, said Rick Spinrad, administrator of the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

An average hurricane season produces 14 named storms (winds of at least 39 miles per hour or 63 kph), of which seven become hurricanes (winds over 74 mph or 119 kph) and three become "major," with wind speeds over 111 mph (178 kph).

Warm sea temperatures and falling wind shear conditions at the height of the hurricane season in August and September are expected to contribute to more and stronger storms this year, the forecasters said.

"This forecast has higher ranges than 2005," said lead forecaster Matthew Rosencrans in a news conference webcast from Washington, D.C. "These are the highest ranges we have ever forecast."

In 2023 there were three major hurricanes that formed among seven hurricanes and 20 named storms, the fourth-greatest number of named storms since 1950. The most damaging, Idalia, tore up the west coast of Florida and made landfall as a Category 3 hurricane.

NOAA's forecast is among several closely monitored by coastal communities and energy companies.

The widely watched Colorado State University forecast issued in April projected five major hurricanes out of 11 total hurricanes that are part of a projection for 23 named tropical storms.

© Reuters. A man takes photos of a submerged car as the remnants of Hurricane Ida brought torrential rains and flooding to the area in Passaic, New Jersey, U.S., September 2, 2021.  Thomas P. Costello/USA TODAY Network via REUTERS/File Photo

The U.S. Gulf of Mexico accounts for 15% of total U.S. crude oil production and 5% of its dry natural gas output, and nearly 50% of the nation's oil-refining capacity resides on its shores.

NOAA's forecast is in line with other initial outlooks. Private forecaster AccuWeather has said there is a 10-15% chance of 30 or more named storms in the 2024 hurricane season, which runs until Nov. 30.

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