The Colorado State University (CSU) Tropical Meteorology Project Team is predicting an “above average” Atlantic hurricane season this year, with 17 named storms. This includes eight hurricanes, four of which are predicted to become major hurricanes.
The CSU team bases its forecasts on models that use 40 years of historical hurricane data and evaluates conditions including:
- Sea surface temperatures
- Sea level pressures
- Vertical wind shear levels (the change in wind direction and speed with height in the atmosphere)
- El Niño
- Other factors
The CSU team cites the likely absence of El Niño as the primary factor for an above-average season. El Niño is a climate pattern in the Pacific Ocean that breaks normal conditions. Hurricane frequency declines in El Niño years due to increased wind shear over the Caribbean and Atlantic, which can tear apart hurricanes as they begin to form.
The 2021 hurricane season is exhibiting characteristics similar to 1996, 2001, 2008, 2011 and 2017, says CSU. These seasons all had above-average Atlantic hurricane activity, according to Phil Klotzbach, research scientist in the Department of Atmospheric Science and lead author of the report.
The CSU team predicts that this year’s hurricane activity will be about 140%t of the average season. Last year’s “above average” season saw about 170% of the average season.
CSU will issue hurricane forecast updates on June 3, July 8 and Aug. 5.
NOAA Will Issue Hurricane Prediction in May
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) will issue its initial 2021 hurricane season outlook in late May 2021.
This year’s NOAA prediction will use new numbers for an “average” season: 14 named storms and seven hurricanes, including three major hurricanes (Category 3, 4 or 5). The previous average was 12 named storms, six hurricanes and 3 major hurricanes.
The NOAA’s definition of “average” has increased because it’s now using a 30-year period of record from 1991 to 2020. The previous 30-year period used storms from 1981 to 2010.
“Major hurricanes” are defined as Category 3, 4 or 5 based on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale. Hurricanes that fall in these categories have sustained winds above 111 miles per hour, which can cause catastrophic damage that could result in power outages and leave residential areas uninhabitable for several days to months.
The NOAA updates the statistics it uses for its prediction models once a decade. “This update allows our meteorologists to make forecasts for the hurricane season with the most relevant climate statistics taken into consideration,” said Michael Farrar, director of NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Prediction, in a statement.
The official hurricane season runs from June 1 through Nov. 30, but storms can form before and after.
How to Prepare for the Hurricane Season
FEMA recommends the following steps to prepare for any hurricane season:
- Sign up for local alerts and warnings. You may want to get an NOAA Weather Radio.
- Prepare to evacuate. Learn your local evacuation routes, have a place to stay, stock emergency supplies and have a “go bag” packed with clothes and medication.
- Have emergency contacts. It’s a good idea to have an out-of-state contact to check-in with, as well as contact information for family, school, work and doctors.
- Safeguard your home. This includes reinforcing or strengthening doors, windows, walls and roofs. Bring lightweight objects (like patio furniture and garbage cans) inside. Anchor objects you cannot bring inside.
- Protect important documents. Keep documents such as financial documents, insurance policies, medical records, legal documents, birth certificates and other types of documents in a waterproof container.
During a hurricane, FEMA recommends following guidance from local authorities. If you are advised to evacuate, grab your “go bag” and leave immediately. Additionally:
- Protect yourself from high winds. Stay away from windows and seek shelter in the lowest level of an interior room.
- Don’t drive or walk on flooded roads or through water.
- Call 911 if you or someone else is in danger.
- Do not return to the area until local authorities declare it safe.
For more information read how to prepare for the next hurricane.
Insurance for Hurricanes
Here’s how to navigate to the right insurance for hurricane season.
Hurricane insurance for your home
Hurricane insurance for homeowners often requires a combination of insurance types to cover both wind and water damage. Depending on where you live you may need two or three insurance policies:
- Homeowners insurance. A standard homeowners insurance policy covers only certain types of water damage from hurricanes, such as wind-driven rain that gets in through a damaged roof. In most locations home insurance also covers wind damage.
- Flood insurance. Floods are excluded from a standard home insurance policy. You’ll need flood insurance to cover flood damage. You can typically buy a policy from the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) or a private flood insurer. Contact your current home insurance agent to see if they can provide a quote for an NFIP flood policy.
- Wind insurance. While a standard home insurance policy covers hurricane wind damage in most states, insurers in some coastal states, such as parts of Texas, may partially or completely exclude windstorm damage. You may need to buy wind insurance as an endorsement to your current home insurance policy, buy a separate windstorm and hail policy, or get wind coverage through your state’s FAIR or Beach plan.
Hurricane insurance for your vehicles
If your car is damaged during a hurricane, such as damage from flood water or flying debris, you will need comprehensive car insurance in your auto insurance policy in order to make a claim. Comprehensive coverage also pays for car theft, vandalism, car fires, and animal collisions.
The nationwide average cost for comprehensive insurance is $168 a year, according to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners.