(USA Today) Though it is early in the 2022 Atlantic hurricane season, the number of storms is tracking behind the frenetic pace of 2021 and 2020.
But stay vigilant, forecasters say: the U.S. is likely to see above-average activity.
By this time in 2020 and 2021, there had already been four named storms in the Atlantic – up to the “D” names. There has been one named storm this year, according to Alan Reppert, senior meteorologist at Accuweather. The hurricane season officially began June 1 and will end Nov. 30.
This year, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has predicted that 14 to 21 named storms will develop during the Atlantic hurricane season, including tropical storms and hurricanes. Of the predicted hurricanes, three to six could be major hurricanes, with wind speeds beginning at 179 km/h.
Those estimates are lower than the final numbers for the 2021 and 2020 storm seasons: 2021 saw 21 named storms, and 2020 had a record-setting 30 named storms, according to NOAA.
The estimates for 2022 and a relatively quiet start to this year’s season indicate lower tallies than the past two years, but totals will still probably land above-average overall, Reppert told U.S. TODAY.
“Even though we may have more storms than an average season, we are looking at less direct impacts to the U.S. than we had in 2020 and 2021, but still about what an average year would be for the Atlantic basin,” he said.
Meteorologists at the National Hurricane Center watched two areas of disturbed weather Sunday: a tropical wave aimed to cross the tropical Atlantic toward the Windward Islands, and an area of low pressure from southeastern Louisiana across the northeastern Gulf of Mexico and into south Florida.
The former is unlikely to affect the U.S. as it passes toward the Caribbean sea, but the latter has the possibility of developing by the middle of the week and could lead to rainfall in parts of Texas, according to Reppert.
This season’s single named system in the Atlantic, Tropical Storm Alex, brought flooding rainfall across South Florida and the Bahamas. In Cuba, three deaths were attributed to the storm, which damaged dozens of homes and knocked out electricity in some areas.
As in any storm season, Reppert recommends residents in areas projected to be affected by hurricanes and tropical storms take a better-safe-than-sorry approach.
“It’s always best to be prepared for storms to affect somewhere, and to always have a game plan for what to do if a storm is approaching the area or even several days out forecasting,” he said.