La Niña and Scorching Oceans: A Recipe for Hurricane Disaster

June Update: Per NOAA, #ElNino is over and we are in ENSO neutral conditions. There is a 75% chance of #LaNina for peak of Atlantic hurricane season (August-October). La Nina typically favors increased Atlantic hurricane activity via decreases in vertical wind shear. The eastern and central tropical and subtropical Atlantic are much warmer than normal, favoring Atlantic hurricane activity. This anomalous warmth is the primary reason why CSU’s seasonal hurricane forecast for 2024 is calling for such an active season.

The Atlantic hurricane season may not officially unfurl until June 1st, but long term forecasters are already sounding the alarm with “serious and growing concerns” about an impending behemoth. Two key factors are fueling this anxiety: La Niña’s anticipated arrival and historically warm water temperatures across the Atlantic.

Before and after view of the storm surge that occurred during Hurricane Idalia.

La Niña’s Hurricane Boost: The current El Niño is expected to transition into a La Niña pattern later in the season. This usually translates to more tropical storms and hurricanes thanks to reduced wind shear (think of it as disruptive high-altitude winds that can tear storms apart). Remember 2005 and 2020, the seasons tied for most active ever? Both had La Niña firmly established.

A preview of the new National Hurricane Center (NHC) experimental
version of the cone graphic that includes inland tropical storm and hurricane watches.

While 2024’s La Niña might not arrive until late summer or early fall, it could create a “back-loaded” season with a particularly active second half. Experts like AccuWeather’s Jonathan Porter even predict a “blockbuster” with “explosive tropical development”.

2024 Atlantic Storm Names

The timing of La Niña’s arrival will be crucial. Will it mirror 2020’s high activity, or fall short? Regardless, the Gulf Coast, especially Texas, is predicted to be at higher risk for direct impacts. But remember, vigilance is key for everyone along the Gulf Coast and Atlantic Seaboard, as pre-season storms have become increasingly common with seven of the past ten years seeing named systems develop before June 1st.

Ocean Inferno Fueling Storms

Warm water is the lifeblood of hurricanes, and the Atlantic right now is practically boiling. As of mid-February, temperatures were already at mid-July levels, and they’re only expected to climb as heat builds throughout spring and summer.

The Main Development Region (MDR), a critical breeding ground for storms, saw water temperatures in January that were a staggering 65% higher than any other recorded year. That’s an ominous sign, indicating any storms that do form have the potential to rapidly intensify, even close to land.

The combination of La Niña and record-breaking water warmth paints a picture of a potentially historic hurricane season. While the Gulf Coast (especially Texas) faces a heightened risk, everyone in the region should be prepared. Start prepping your hurricane kits, dust off your evacuation plans, and stay informed of updates. As Jonathan Porter warns, “This could be a very active season with potentially serious impacts.” Don’t be caught off guard.

Remember the devastation of 2020? Well, crank it up a notch – that’s what experts are saying about the upcoming hurricane season. While it officially starts June 1st, there’s already chatter about potentially record-breaking activity thanks to two major factors: La Niña and crazy warm ocean temperatures.

La Niña’s Return: This weather pattern usually means more hurricanes and storms by reducing wind shear (like wind currents trying to rip the storm apart). Think 2005 and 2020, the busiest seasons ever! This year, La Niña might come later, making the latter half of the season especially active. So, don’t let your guard down even after Labor Day!

Ocean on Fire: The Atlantic is already way warmer than usual, like mid-July warm in February! That’s fuel for hurricanes, meaning any storms that form could intensify quickly, even near land.

Saharan Air Layer (Dry Air)
Saharan Air Layer (SAL)

Experts Sound Alarm: ‘Blockbuster’ Hurricane Season on the Horizon

  • “This season should be full speed ahead, as there are no factors going against an active season,” Brian McNoldy, a senior research scientist at the University of Miami, told CNN. “We’ll likely have an anomalously warm ocean and neutral or La Niña conditions for the peak of hurricane season – all the things you don’t want if you want less Atlantic storms.”
  • CSU’s hurricane forecast is calling for 23 named storms this year!
  • Jonathan Porter (Accuweather), Chief Meteorologist: Warns of “serious and growing concerns” about an unusually active season. Predicts a “blockbuster” season with “explosive tropical development” due to warm water temperatures and favorable wind conditions.
    Paul Pastelok (Accuweather), Long-Range Expert: Expects the second half of the season to be particularly active due to La Niña’s potential development.
    Bernie Rayno (Accuweather), Chief Video Meteorologist: Highlights the unusually warm water temperatures, almost 65% higher than average.
  • “The sea ice around the Antarctic is just not growing,” said Matthew England, a professor at the University of New South Wales who studies ocean currents. “The temperature’s just going off the charts. It’s like an omen of the future.”
  • National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA): While they haven’t released their official forecast yet, early indications suggest an above-average season.
  • Tropical Storm Risk (TSR): Predicts 17 named storms, 9 hurricanes, and 4 major hurricanes.
    Key concerns:

Warm water temperatures: The Atlantic is already significantly warmer than normal, especially in the critical development region.

La Niña: If it develops, it could create favorable conditions for storm formation later in the season.
Low wind shear: Reduced wind shear allows storms to form and intensify more easily.

NOAA issues its most aggressive hurricane season forecast on record

(May 23, 2024 UPDATE) The 2024 Atlantic Hurricane Season Outlook (June 1 – November 2024) just got issued. NOAA is predicting and above-normal year with:

  • 17-15 Named Storms
  • 8-13 Hurricanes
  • 4-7 Major Hurricanes

NOAA gives an 85% chance of an above-average season. It would be the eighth season in the last 10 to be above the 1991-2020 average. The outlook is fairly similar to Colorado State University’s, which also issued its busiest outlook ever, with the potential for upwards of 23 named storms.

2024 Atlantic Hurricane Season Outlook


  • Increased risk of landfalling hurricanes, particularly on the Gulf Coast.
  • Importance of being prepared for potential hurricane impacts.

Key Takeaways for Florida, Louisiana, Georgia, and Texas:

  • Get ready: This could be a super-charged season, especially for the Gulf Coast (Texas, be prepared!).
  • Don’t wait for June: Storms can pop up before the official start, so have your hurricane plan ready now.
  • La Niña watch: The season’s activity might depend on when La Niña kicks in. Stay informed!
  • Warm water, strong storms: Any storms that form could get powerful fast due to the toasty ocean. Be prepared for the worst.

Bottom line: This season is shaping up to be a doozy. Don’t wait, folks. Start prepping your hurricane kits, review evacuation plans, and stay tuned for updates. Remember, it’s better to be safe than sorry.

Global Tropics Outlook

Global Tropics Outlook

How to Prepare for an Above-Average Hurricane Season

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