Atlantic hurricane season: 2021 outlook

Thu Aug 12 2021

high winds and leaning palm trees on the coast

Editor’s note: The 2021 hurricane season officially ended on November 30, 2021. In total, there were 21 named storms, making 2021 the third most active year on record in terms of named storms and the sixth consecutive above-normal hurricane season.

In 2021, hurricanes collectively caused more than $70 billion in damage in the United States, and more than 90% of it caused by Hurricane Ida. Ida reached top wind speeds of 150 mph when it made landfall in Louisiana. Then the storm system headed north to New York City, where it flooded city streets and subways. All told, the storm caused more than $60 billion damage and resulted in more than 90 deaths in the United States.

Every year, the Atlantic hurricane season brings dangerous storms along the Atlantic coast, Gulf of Mexico, and Caribbean Sea. This year looks to be similar to last year where we had a record-breaking number of hurricanes.

Predictions for the 2021 Atlantic hurricane season

As of August 4, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) experts predict an above-normal season for the Atlantic with 15 to 21 named storms (i.e., winds of 39 mph or more) in the 2021 Atlantic hurricane season. Of those named storms, seven to 10 could have winds of 74 mph or more, making them hurricanes. They also anticipate between three and five hurricanes to be Category 3 or higher.

Colorado State University (CSU) researchers, on the other hand, recently reduced their predictions for the 2021 season . However, their predictions still fall in line with NOAA’s predictions for an active Atlantic hurricane season for 2021 with:

  • 18 named storms.
  • 8 hurricanes.
  • 4 major hurricanes.

The CSU team also reports on the probability of hurricanes making landfall. Where the full-season average for the last century is 52 percent, the chance for landfall for the 2021 season is 65 percent. For Florida’s Gulf coast, where the full-season average has been 30 percent, CSU puts the probability for landfall at 41 percent.

Atlantic hurricane season off to a busy start

We were only about a month into the 2021 season when we saw our first hurricane. Elsa reached Category 1 status on July 2, which is six weeks earlier than the average date for the first hurricane. Moreover, Elsa was the earliest fifth-named storm ever recorded in the Atlantic waters.

But Elsa was not the first named storm of the 2021 Atlantic hurricane season. Prior to it, we also had tropical storms Ana, Bill, Claudette, and Danny. Ana was classified as a tropical storm on May 22, ten days before hurricane season.

But is this different from previous years? Last year, the Atlantic hurricane season set a record with 30 named storms, 14 of which became hurricanes, including seven major ones. And while scientist aren’t predicting as much activity in the 2021 season, there are a few interesting facts to note:

  • Both the 2020 and 2021 Atlantic hurricane seasons saw five named storms by the first week of July.
  • This year is the seventh in a row where we had a named storm prior to the start of the hurricane season.
  • We’ve had five straight years of above-average hurricane seasons.

It’s probably too soon to call that a pattern. The Center for Climate and Energy Solutions points out that there’s no clear consensus on whether climate change will increase the frequency of hurricanes. But it also notes that climate change creates conditions that lead to more intense hurricanes, which ultimately means people need to be ready for this new normal.

Being prepared for hurricane season

If you live in an area where hurricanes are likely, then you need a hurricane preparedness plan that covers both sheltering in place and evacuating your home. Planning for both scenarios is important because you don’t know what your real risk is until shortly before a hurricane hits.

You also want to check if you have sufficient homeowners insurance. Your policy most likely covers wind damage from a hurricane, but storm surge and flooding are another story. This type of loss is only covered by specialized flood insurance policies.

Anyone looking for home insurance during the Atlantic hurricane seasons – June 1 through November 30 – should also work quickly to secure coverage. Insurance companies generally place moratoriums on writing new policies when a storm is on the way, which can delay getting your policy bound.

Questions about your hurricane coverage? Give us a call at 855-717-0022 – we’re happy to help!