With hurricane season beginning June 1 and running through Nov. 30, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration officials predict an above-normal Atlantic hurricane season.

What you need to know

The latest NOAA forecasts are urging residents along the Atlantic Ocean and the surrounding areas to expect a more active hurricane season than normal, with an 85% chance of an above-normal season, NOAA Administrator Rick Spinrad said at a May 23 NOAA news conference.
This comes after the Houston area has already seen numerous severe weather storms bringing flooding as well as tornadoes and high winds, Community Impact reported.

According to predictions, the NOAA is forecasting a range of 17 to 25 named storms in the Atlantic Ocean with winds of 39 mph or higher, including:
  • Eight to 13 hurricanes with winds of 74 mph or higher
  • Four to seven major hurricanes with winds of 111 mph or higher
A closer look

Spinrad said there are numerous factors contributing to the predicted season, including:
  • Near-record warm ocean temperatures in the Atlantic Ocean
  • La Nina conditions—referring to the cooling of water—developing in the Pacific Ocean
  • Reduced Atlantic trade winds and less wind shear, which is a variation in wind velocity
However, he said forecasters are better equipped due to the over $1 trillion in federal investments from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law as well as the Inflation Reduction Act, which benefit climate resilience, Spinrad said.

“President Biden's Investing in America agenda has actually allowed us to enable rapid deployment of things like advanced water models, allowed us to build near real time, high resolution flood inundation maps across the country,” he said.

The NOAA will also enhance its forecast communications to include Spanish updates and advisories as well as using an experimental version of the forecast cone graphic with depiction of inland tropical storms and hurricane watches, according to a May 23 news release.

Staying prepared

Being prepared is essential when it comes to being ready for a hurricane, said Erik Hooks, Federal Emergency Management Agency deputy administrator. Community members should begin planning now rather than hours before a storm is expected to roll in.

“Understand your risk and put a plan in place so that you're prepared when disaster strikes. That's what resilience is all about,” Hooks said at the news conference. “It's about anticipating risks, taking steps to mitigate them, taking action, which in turn helps jump-start a recovery after the emergency passes.”

According to its website, NOAA recommends residents prepare by:
  • Developing an evacuation plan
  • Assembling disaster supplies, including food, water, batteries, chargers, a radio and cash
  • Checking on insurance and documenting their possessions
  • Creating a communication plan with a handwritten list of contacts
  • Strengthening homes by trimming trees, installing storm shutters and sealing outside wall openings
Something to know

Though the category of hurricanes is based on wind speeds, residents should be concerned about the impacts beyond the wind, especially the dangers of water, National Weather Service Director Ken Graham said.

From 2013 to 2023, data shows 90% of hurricane fatalities occurred from water, with most being from heavy rain and storm surges as well as people getting stuck in automobiles, he said. There’s also been a rise in fatalities from rip currents due to people surfing, he said.

The bottom line

As the season begins, Spinrad said it’s essential to prepare now, stay prepared and continue watching forecasts beyond initial warnings.

“Now is the time to prepare and stay prepared,” Spinrad said. “Remember, it only takes one storm to devastate a community, and it's prudent to prepare now because once the storm is headed your way, it all happens so rapidly you won't have the time to plan and prepare at that point.”