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NOAA says this hurricane season could be busy, possibly 85% above average

Every week WAVE 3 meteorologist Tawana Andrew breaks down what we know and what we don't about the climate and weather here in Louisville.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is predicting an active hurricane season. WAVE 3 meteorologist Tawana Andrew discussed the hurricane season with LPM's Bill Burton.

Bill Burton: It's time for us to take a look at the Science Behind the Forecast with WAVE 3 meteorologist Tawana Andrew. Good morning, Tawana.

Tawana Andrew: Good morning. Today we're talking about, I think, a very pertinent topic, especially for anyone going on vacation, maybe along the Florida or the Gulf coast.

BB: Absolutely. Tomorrow is the first of June. That means hurricane season starts. So tell us about it. What's the forecast for this hurricane season?

TA: Well, it's looking like it's going to be a significantly active season. So NOAA meteorologists put out their forecast. And they're predicting an 85% chance of an above normal 2024 Atlantic hurricane season with a 10% near normal chance and a 5% below normal chance. So something tells me that we're gonna be very busy as meteorologists this season.

That's an incredibly high number. And then the numbers in terms of the amount of storms are also well above what we typically see. So they're predicting 17 to 25 named storms. That includes tropical storms, all the way up to major hurricanes. Of those named storms, they're expecting eight to 13 of them to become hurricanes so that means they all have winds of 74 miles per hour or greater. In terms of major hurricanes, they're forecasting around four to seven so that means category 3, 4, 5, we could see around 4 to 7 of those who are this season.

That's pretty intense, especially when you look at the average of what we typically see for a hurricane season. Usually we see 13 named storms. They're predicting 17 or 25.

BB: Yeah, that's a big difference.

TA: That is a huge difference. Usually, we see around seven hurricanes or three major hurricanes. So it looks like we'll be well above average for this season. And a reminder for anybody who's wondering what, what does a hurricane need to form? Well, you need a pre-existing weather disturbance. That's the first thing you need low wind shear, which is a change in wind speed or direction, over a particular distance, you need sea surface temperatures at least 80 degrees Fahrenheit over a depth of 150 feet.

And by the way, in the end of May, we're already seeing that is not something we typically see this early. So already it is incredibly warm in the Gulf of Mexico. You also need an area of thunderstorms for all of you and all of that together for a hurricane form. So we already have one of those factors. And we're just starting with the event. Yeah, I know. I know. So the some of the factors that we're looking at in terms of building this forecast are one, the near record warmth are already being seen in parts of the Atlantic Ocean Atlantic basin. Two, the La Nina that they're expecting in the Pacific, and weaker Atlantic trade winds and wind shear, all those things can work together to enhance the formation of tropical cyclones this season.

This transcript was edited for clarity

Bill Burton is the Morning Edition host for LPM. Email Bill at bburton@lpm.org.

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