The 2022 Atlantic hurricane season is expected to see above-normal levels of activity according to a number of early forecasts, which also suggest an elevated level of landfall risk for the coming United States wind season.
Once again, the early hurricane season forecasts are notable for insurance, reinsurance, insurance-linked securities (ILS) and catastrophe bond interests, pointing to a potentially impactful year of named storm activity again.
Of course, early forecasts are just that, very early and prior to the season, with a lot able to change in the months before US hurricane activity really ramps up.
But directionally, hurricane seasonal forecasts are helpful and the meteorology behind them can give a good view of what to anticipate, in terms of general trends.
Forecasting impacts is far harder, of course, with nearer-term forecasts of tropical activity a much more accurate way to understand what might happen over a shorter time-frame as the season gets underway.
But for now, we’ve begun tracking the main forecasting groups, as we’ve done now for more than two decades, with our 2022 Atlantic hurricane season page now available and featuring early forecasts from four of the groups we track.
Across these early seasonal hurricane forecasts, which include some of those tracked by the reinsurance, catastrophe bond and wider ILS industry, our Artemis average currently sits at an active 19 named storms, 8 hurricanes and 4 major hurricanes, with Accumulated Cyclone Energy (ACE) of 153.
The four forecast teams we have data on so far are: the Colorado State University tropical forecasting team (CSU) led by Phil Klotzbach and industry-backed; the also insurance and reinsurance industry supported Tropical Storm Risks (TSR); well-known weather forecaster Accuweather; and private forecast specialists WeatherBell.
The CSU forecast team calls for: 19 named storms; 9 hurricanes; 4 major hurricanes; ACE of 160.
The TSR forecast team calls for: 18 named storms; 8 hurricanes; 4 major hurricanes; ACE of 138.
The Accuweather forecast calls for: 16 to 20 named storms; 6 to 8 hurricanes; and 3 to 5 major hurricanes.
The WeatherBell forecast calls for: 18 to 22 named storms; 6 to 10 hurricanes; 2 to 4 major hurricanes; ACE of 140 to 180.
With the mean of these 2022 hurricane season forecasts being 19 named storms, 8 hurricanes and 4 major hurricanes, that is above both the near and long-term historical averages.
Forecast numbers aside though, at this early stage far in advance of the start of the US hurricane season, it is perhaps more important to consider climatological and meteorological signals that provide insights into how tropical storms and hurricanes may track through the 2022 hurricane season.
The forecasts are in general agreement on conditions being conducive for above-normal hurricane activity, while some point to an elevated risk of hurricane landfalls in 2022.
CSU said, “Current weak La Niña conditions look fairly likely to transition to neutral ENSO by this summer/fall, but the odds of a significant El Niño seem unlikely. Sea surface temperatures averaged across the eastern and central tropical Atlantic are currently near average, while Caribbean and subtropical Atlantic sea surface temperatures are warmer than normal.
“We anticipate an above-average probability for major hurricanes making landfall along the continental United States coastline and in the Caribbean.”
TSR agreed, saying, “The more likely scenario is for tropical North Atlantic and Caribbean Sea waters to be slightly warmer than normal by August-September 2022, and for weak La Niña conditions to persist through August-September 2022 and into the autumn thereby contributing to reduced trade winds over the tropical North Atlantic and Caribbean Sea. Both these environmental factors are expected to enhance North Atlantic hurricane activity in 2022.”
Accuweather also highlighted elevated landfall risk for the 2022 hurricane season, saying, “AccuWeather’s team of tropical weather forecasters, led by veteran meteorologist and hurricane expert Dan Kottlowski, is once again predicting an above-normal season in terms of tropical activity in the Atlantic, as well as a higher-than-normal chance that a major hurricane could make landfall in the mainland United States, Puerto Rico and the U.S Virgin Islands.”
WeatherBell does not give landfall probabilities this far out, and did say that ACE numbers could be elevated by storms forming in areas far from land this year, which is perhaps a little more encouraging for insurance and reinsurance market interests.
Above all, the chance of La Nina conditions persisting longer and any El Nino conditions being weak in 2022, means wind shear could be lower and conditions could be more conducive towards steering storms and hurricanes towards the United States.
In addition, warm waters in the tropics could fuel early season storm development, some of the forecasters suggest.
“Sea-surface temperatures are above normal over much of the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean and even off the East Coast of the United States, especially the southeast coast of the United States, and these are critical areas for early season development,” Kottlowski of Accuweather said.
Sea surface temperatures are also above-normal in coastal areas, such as around Florida and also in parts of the Gulf of Mexico.
CSU gives a 71% chance of a major hurricane striking the US coastline during the 2022 season, much higher than the last century average of 52%.
For the US east coast and Florida peninsula the probability of major hurricane landfall is given as 47%, up on the 31% average.
For the Gulf Coast, the probability of major hurricane landfall is given as 46% for this year, up again on the 30% average.
Finally, the probability a major hurricane tracks into the Caribbean is given as 60%, up on the 42% average.
So, at this far out from the season stage, we’re currently looking at a chance of above-normal activity levels, with higher than normal landfall probabilities.
It’s very early to get concerned about the prospects for insurance, reinsurance and ILS market losses from the hurricane season, but it does appear this year 2022 will again see all eyes on the tropics for at least a portion of the months from June to November, the accepted Atlantic hurricane seasonal term.
Track the 2022 Atlantic tropical storm and hurricane season on our dedicated page and we’ll update you as new forecasts and information emerges.