The 2024 Atlantic Hurricane Outlook

The 2024 Atlantic Hurricane Outlook

Forecasters say that three climatological factors are combining to potentially spark an extremely active—and possibly extended—hurricane season in the Atlantic.

Citing the confluence of three major climatological factors, forecasters from NOAA’s National Weather Service are predicting an extremely active Atlantic hurricane season with the highest number of named storms NOAA has ever issued for its May outlook. NOAA is forecasting 17 to 25 named storms, 8 to 13 of them expected to become hurricanes, including four to seven Category 3 storms or higher. Forecasters said they have 70% confidence in the ranges, predicting an 85% chance of an above-normal season.

NOAA’s GOES-16 satellite captured Hurricane Idalia approaching the western coast of Florida while Hurricane Franklin churned in the Atlantic Ocean at 5:01 p.m. EDT on August 29, 2023.

Image credit: NOAA Satellites

The driving factors behind the predictions are the expected development of La Niña in the Pacific, which typically reduces wind shear in the tropics, record warm ocean temperatures in the Atlantic, and a predicted above-normal West African monsoon, which can birth the waves of energy that become some of the Atlantic’s strongest and longer-lived storms.

“We’ve seen a lot of seasons where we have a warm ocean but too much shear, or you don’t get an African monsoon,” NWS Director Ken Graham said at a press conference in Washington, D.C., yesterday, announcing the forecast. “It’s all coming together. This is a situation where you combine factors…everything has to come together. All the energy in the oceans, check; an active African monsoon, check; don’t expect a lot of shear, check.”

Matt Rosencrans, the lead hurricane seasonal forecaster and author of the outlook, said that Atlantic temperatures are 1-2°C above normal, “equivalent to what we would normally see in August, and they’re dramatically higher than what we were seeing in 2005, and even 2010.”

A summary infographic showing hurricane season probability and numbers of named storms predicted from NOAA’s 2024 Atlantic Hurricane Season Outlook.

Image credit: NOAA

Temperatures in main storm development regions are 120 days ahead of where they normally would be, he said. “That can have a lot of implications for early and late season activity, and that longer activity is what we typically see in these busy seasons as well…La Niña reducing wind shear in bulk lets that West African monsoon and warm sea temperatures shine through.”

NOAA is also forecasting the second-highest ACE—the Accumulated Cyclone Energy index—for the May outlook; 2010’s May outlook holds the record for the highest. Essentially a high wind index, ACE refers to the collective strength and duration of Atlantic tropical storms and hurricanes occurring during a given season.

Graham emphasized the importance of being prepared.

“Every Category 5 storm that made landfall in the U.S. in last 100 years was a tropical storm or less three days prior. The big ones are fast,” he said. “You look at a season like this, you could see some pretty strong storms with this forecast…they don’t care about timelines. Preparedness is everything. On those Category 5s, the average lead time was 55 hours.”

He also noted that it’s more important to focus on hurricane impacts than latching onto a category, which uses only windspeed as a measure. For example, he said, between 2013 and 2023, 90% of fatalities from hurricanes were from water, not wind—57% from rainfall and half of those in automobiles.

A screen shot from the NOAA presentation.

Inland effects can be as bad or worse than where the storm comes ashore, largely due to heavy rainfall. To help people visualize this, NOAA has developed a new, experimental element in its familiar “cone of error” graphic that displays potential landfall, adding potential impacts inland.

NOAA Administrator Rick Spinrad said that new tools are helping better equip forecasters, including a new generation of Flood Inundation Mapping. “President Biden’s Investing in America agenda has allowed us to deploy near real-time flood inundation maps across the country and begin our path for next-generation radar,” he said. “These investments are critical.”

Another new tool is the Modular Ocean Model, aka MOM6, which, according to a NOAA media release “will be added to the Hurricane Analysis and Forecast System to improve the representation of the key role the ocean plays in driving hurricane intensity. Another model, SDCON, will predict the probability of tropical cyclone rapid intensification.”

National Weather Service Director Ken Graham explains a new experimental element in its familiar “cone of error” graphic that adds potential impacts inland.

And, in the ocean itself, new eyes will gather data throughout the storms. Up to a dozen Saildrones—uncrewed surface vehicles that can gather and deliver one-minute data in real time—will be deployed this season, while Directional Wave Spectra Drifters (DWSDs) will be deployed from NOAA hurricane hunters in a storm. And, a new lightweight dropsonde will be deployed into developing tropical storms to provide real-time wind data.

“NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center will update the 2024 Atlantic seasonal outlook in early August, prior to the historical peak of the season,” the media release noted.

For more information, as well as links to the various tools and science used to predict and track hurricanes, go to

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