By ESS team

  • The Barcelona Supercomputing Center, in collaboration with other institutions, manages a platform that compiles forecasts for the North Atlantic tropical cyclone season from nearly 30 forecast centres from all over the world.
  • The 2024 hurricane season is expected to be exceptional, not only in terms of the average number of hurricanes expected but also in terms of their intensity.
  • The average forecast calls for 11 hurricanes, 5 of which would be categorised as major, and about 24 named storms.

This year's hurricane season in the Atlantic is expected to be hyperactive, potentially record-breaking. The forecasts submitted to the Seasonal Hurricane Predictions platform call for an average of 11 hurricanes for the 2024 season. This is the highest number recorded for April forecasts since the Barcelona Supercomputing Center - Centro Nacional de Supercomputación (BSC-CNS) platform went live in 2016.

Run by BSC and Colorado State University (CSU) in partnership with AXA XL, the Seasonal Hurricane Predictions platform gathers and displays data from nearly 30 different centres specialising in seasonal hurricane forecasting worldwide. The tool provides predictions by compiling forecasts on the upcoming North Atlantic tropical cyclone activity from June to November.

Each year, many institutions, including universities, private entities and government agencies, issue forecasts for the hurricane season. Gathering all these numbers systematically on a single platform makes a robust climate service, not only for the scientific community but also for other actors such as insurance companies, anticipatory action organisations, and the media,” says Marta Terrado, a senior researcher and team leader at the Earth System Services group of the Earth Sciences Department at BSC.

All institutions entering their forecasts on the BSC platform, 17 to date, forecast an above-average season this year. The lowest of these forecasts is for 8 hurricanes, which is still above the long-term average of 7 hurricanes. The private meteorological company WeatherBell predicts the highest number of hurricanes, 14-16, with a best estimate of 15. This forecast would tie the record of 15 hurricanes set in 2005. That hurricane season had four landfalling major hurricanes (Dennis, Katrina, Rita and Wilma) hit the continental US, which caused a total of ~$165 billion in damage in 2005 US dollars, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

The forecasts for major hurricanes (Category 3+ on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale) are also the highest for the average of the April forecasts recorded on the platform. The average forecast is for 5 major hurricanes, while the mid-point of the range is predicted by 268Wx, and Weatherbell predicts 7 major hurricanes. The most major hurricanes observed in an Atlantic hurricane season on record is 7, also set in 2005 and equalled in 2020.

The season is also forecast to be very busy for named storms, with the average of all forecasts calling for 24 named storms. The most aggressive of these forecasts is from the University of Pennsylvania. They are forecasting 27-39 named storms. The mid-point of their forecast, 33 named storms, would break the old record of 30 named storms set in 2020.

“The primary reasons for the extremely active season forecast by most groups are the extremely warm North Atlantic and the likely transition from El Niño to La Niña,” said Phil Klotzbach, lead author of the forecast issued by CSU Tropical Meteorology Project. “La Niña tends to be associated with lower vertical wind shear, allowing for stronger hurricanes, while a warmer North Atlantic provides more fuel for developing storms,” he added.

Louis-Philippe Caron, the Climate Scenarios and Services Coordinator at Ouranos, stated: “We really see the value of a site like this year. We have had groups forecasting busy seasons in the past, but when all the forecasters agree on a hyperactive season, you know something quite unusual is happening.”

About the Seasonal Hurricane Predictions platform

The Seasonal Hurricane Predictions platform is led by BSC and CSU, in partnership with AXA XL. It is the first platform aggregating forecasts from centres specialising in seasonal hurricane prediction in the Atlantic. The platform collects forecasts of upcoming hurricane activity issued from March through early August.

The Seasonal Hurricane Predictions platform displays data from around 30 entities worldwide, including meteorological services (e.g., NOAA and UK Met Office, among others), universities (e.g., Colorado State University and NC State University) and private meteorological companies (e.g., WeatherBELL and WeatherTiger). The project was launched in 2016 to improve the understanding of hurricane variability among the scientific community and the general public.

The project's website was developed in collaboration with the graphic designer Iskiam Jara, and it was named “Site of the Day” by the Design Nominees website and nominated for the Lloyd’s Market Innovation Awards in 2016.