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There are expected to be six to seven named hurricanes and on average 12 storms this year.

This is according to the hurricane outlook for 2021 that was given today by Acting Director of the Meteorological (MET) Services, Sabu Best, during the Department of Emergency Management’s (DEM), 2021 Atlantic Hurricane Season press conference at its headquarters at Warrens, St. Michael.

It is also projected that there may be around two to three major hurricanes that may reach Category 3 or higher.

Mr. Best, while noting that in 2020 there were 30 named storms, 13 of which became hurricanes, said the forecast, as shown by Colorado State, University of Arizona, and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, indicate that the storms could be from 17 to the lower 20s.

While the Acting Director acknowledged this year’s projection was below the forecast of the 30 from last year, he said it was also around the same ball park and he further reminded those gathered that forecasts were not to be taken as gospel, as they could easily be more, or be on par.

He also divulged that all the players were basically forecasting an active year. “Hurricane forecasts averages are six to seven and we are expecting roughly around eight of them or so, which is also above average, the climatological average, and for major hurricanes, the average is two to three and again all players in the forecast here are predicting above average in terms of major hurricanes for the year 2021,” he said. 

Explaining why the hurricane season is becoming “so active”, he pointed to the El Nino Southern Oscillation (ENSO) and the changes in the water temperatures in the North Atlantic, which is the Atlantic Multi-decadal 10-year oscillation.

Acting Director of the MET Office, Sabu Best. (FP)

He also added: “This is for sure the second year that, even though we are in a neutral phase in terms of ENSO, we will be progressing into a La Nina again by August/September or so, which makes the environment more conducive for tropical cyclone development. Basically, the entire Atlantic sea surface temperature is above normal what it should be for the month of May and that’s a really good indication, initially in the forecast that the season is going to start off pretty early, and going to be an active one as well.”

Meanwhile, reviewing the year 2020, Mr. Best said it had the most active hurricane season on record and marked the fifth consecutive year of above average activity.  

He stated that this activity was characterised by 30 named tropical storms, 13 of which developed into hurricanes, with some of them making land fall on the US coastlines. There were also six major hurricanes that were Category 3 and above, while two tropical storms were formed in May, before the start of the season.  

Noting that already for 2021, one hurricane had formed for May, he said: “So that record still remains unbroken for 2020.”

Ten storms, he added, were also formed in September, causing it to be deemed the most in any month on record. The Acting Director further pointed out that apart from 2005, the year 2020 was the only other time that the Greek-letter names were used, after the usual rotating list of names was exhausted.   

He said this occurred around September 18, 2020, and it saw two major hurricanes, Etta and Iota, formed in the November. Iota later developed into a Category 5, making it the strongest storm to occur in the late season.  This also marked the fifth consecutive year of at least one Category 5 hurricane.

joy-ann.gill@barbados.gov.bb

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