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More hurricane forecasts call for above-average 2021 Atlantic season


Two more 2021 Atlantic hurricane season forecasts from teams that we track here at Artemis have now been published and both echo other forecast teams we’ve already covered, in calling for this year to see hurricane activity above both the long and near-term averages.

hurricane-laura-landfall-noaa-goes-eastHurricane season is now fast-approaching for the insurance, reinsurance and insurance-linked securities (ILS) industry and with every forecast release it becomes clearer there is a strong chance of another year that keeps the market on its toes from June through November.

First, the Weather Company, a meteorology specialist unit of tech firm IBM, which has called for 18 named storms, 8 hurricanes and 3 major hurricanes with Category 3 or greater winds, to form during the 2021 season in the Atlantic basin.

However, while an above-average season is predicted in these numbers, the Weather Company does not believe conditions are conducive for a repeat of the hyperactive levels of storm formation and landfalls we saw in the 2020 Atlantic hurricane season.

“While there is upside to the season, we expect nothing approaching last year’s activity,” Dr. Todd Crawford, chief meteorologist at The Weather Company explained.

Like most other forecasters, one of the potential catalysts for a more active hurricane season this year is the fact that while La Niña may be fading, its influence on the atmosphere may not fade in time for hurricane season, the Weather Company said.

Crawford highlighted, “There is still a nice big batch of anomalously warm water near Indonesia that continues to drive the tropical base state signal.”

Even if the La Nina itself fizzles out, the Weather Company believes that conditions may still drive the kind of Atlantic season we’d expect during a La Nina year, given the transition away from it to ENSO neutral or El Nino is expected to be a slow one.

Sea surface temperatures are another factor expected to play into the 2021 Atlantic hurricane season, although currently they aren’t seen as warm as last year.

“Current Atlantic SSTs (sea-surface temperatures), when taken in aggregate, are at significantly lower levels than last year,” Crawford said.

The Gulf of Mexico and far eastern Atlantic Ocean near the west African coast are both seen as much cooler than a year ago, but Crawford noted that these SST’s could change as hurricane season nears.

Forecasts from climate models suggest that much of the Atlantic basin will see SST’s warmer than normal in 2021, providing plenty of fuel for advancing tropical storms or hurricanes.

Crawford also pointed to atmospheric conditions including a recent blocking high pressure near Greenland this spring that could drive warmer water into the tropics for the hurricane season.

The second forecast to come to light in recent days is one from researchers at the North Carolina State University.

The NC State tropical research team call for 15 to 18 named storms, between 7 and 9 hurricanes, and 2 or 3 major hurricanes to form during the 2021 Atlantic tropical season.

Again, this is a prediction for an above-average level of activity in the Atlantic hurricane basin for 2021, both on a long-term or near-term basis.

Lian Xie, professor of marine, earth and atmospheric sciences at NC State also said that the Gulf Of Mexico will likely see an active hurricane season, with 3 to 5 named storms forming in the region, with 2 to 4 becoming hurricanes, and one becoming a major hurricane. The historical averages for the Gulf of Mexico are for three named storms and one hurricane.

These latest forecasts continue to suggest a busy year ahead for insurance, reinsurance and ILS market interests and serve to underline the importance of preparation and also having robust reinsurance in place for those coastal underwriting specialists.

Adding these two new forecasts for the 2021 hurricane season to the data we’ve already aggregated from the main forecast teams tracked by the reinsurance and ILS industry, our Artemis average remains at 18 named storms, 9 hurricanes and 4 major hurricanes, with ACE predicted to be around 150.

This is above the long-term average and median which are both 12 named storms, 6 hurricanes, 3 major hurricanes, as well as the nearer term NOAA average of 14 named storms, 7 hurricanes and 3 major hurricanes, and even just above the average of the last decade which sits at 17 named storms, 7 hurricanes and 3 major hurricanes.

Track the 2021 Atlantic tropical storm and hurricane season on our dedicated page and we’ll update you as new forecasts and information emerges.

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