With just a few weeks into the 2021 Atlantic Hurricane Season, the predictions of above-normal activity are proving to be true. In May, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the National Hurricane Centre (NHC) released the storm names for the season. They are:
Ana, Bill, Claudette, Danny, Elsa, Fred, Grace, Henri, Ida, Julian, Kate, Larry, Mindy, Nicholas, Odette, Peter, Rose, Sam, Teresa, Victor, and Wanda.
The NOAA gave its prediction with 70% confidence of a range from 13 to 20 named storms this season, winds 39MPH or more. Six to 10 of the storms could become hurricanes with winds 74MPH or higher and 3 to 5 major hurricanes (categories 3-5) are expected with winds 111MPH or more.
Following last year’s heightened activity which resulted in all the storm names being used, a supplemental list was created by the World Meteorological Organization to avoid the use of the Greek alphabet. The names are:
Adria, Braylen, Caridad, Deshawn, Emery, Foster, Gemma, Heath, Isla, Jacobus, Kenzie, Lucio, Makayla, Nolan, Orlanda, Pax, Ronin, Sophie, Tayshaun, Viviana, and Will.
How many names have been used so far?
Tropical Storm Ana got the ball rolling on May 22, 2021, when she headed northeast of Bermuda, but luckily did not make landfall. Tropical Storm Ana’s formation marked the seventh year that a system formed before the official June 1 commencement date. Ana was said to “barely hold” as a tropical storm but gave insight into what is to come.
A hurricane in July?
The peak of the hurricane season which starts in August is traditionally thought of as the time when hurricanes are most likely to form. However, Hurricane Elsa made landfall in Barbados on July 2, 2021, as the first hurricane to hit the island since 1955.
Hurricane Elsa was upgraded to a category one Hurricane during her passage over Barbados. The NHC had forecast 4 to 8 inches (10 to 20 cm) of rain with a maximum of 15 inches (38 cm) across the Windward and the southern Leeward Islands including Barbados, St. Lucia, and St. Vincent and the Grenadines. Loss of power, water, and devastation caused by winds over 70MPH impacted Barbados.
Hurricane Elsa’s early formation made her the earliest fifth named storm of any Atlantic Hurricane Season on record, outdoing the record set by Edouard on July 5, 2020. From 1991 to 2020, the average date for a fifth storm was August 18. It was only during eight seasons that the fifth storm did not occur until September (The Weather Channel)
What does this mean for the rest of the season?
One might think that Ana’s formation before the official start of the season and Elsa’s impact might be an indicator of what is to come. Although the season is predicted to be above normal, there is no correlation between storms or hurricanes occurring in June and July and the overall season activity.
While there is no telling how the rest of the reason will unfold, preparedness is key for what comes next.