Above-Average Hurricane Season Expected This Year

By Yessenia Funes May 26, 2017

Hurricane season kicks off June 1, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) already warned that this season is likely to be worse than usual.

Factors that influence the severity of a hurricane season include sea surface temperatures and the appearance of an El Niño event. El Niño brings warm waters through the Pacific Ocean with heavy impacts on the global climate. Forecasters expect there to be a “weak or non-existent El Niño,” which would lead to more powerful hurricanes. As climate change drives up sea surface temperatures, hurricanes become more likely too.

NOAA is predicting 11 to 17 named storms (average seasons typically have 12), of which five to nine could transform into hurricanes. Out of those, two to four could become major hurricanes (categories three, four or five). 

"Regardless of how many storms develop this year, it only takes one to disrupt our lives," said Acting FEMA Administrator Robert Fenton Jr. in a press release.

Last year’s hurricane season was the most active since 2012, per NOAA. Communities in the South are still reeling from Hurricane Matthew. In North Carolina, the Black and Native community of Lumberton is still struggling to clean up after President Donald Trump denied Gov. Roy Cooper 99.9 percent of requested funds to properly recover earlier this month. Three other major hurricanes hit the U.S., including Hurricane Hermine, in September.

Hurricanes are costly—and, often, deadly—disasters: North Carolina secured more than $334 million last year to rebuild, but still lost 15 lives.

The most known hurricane, however, is perhaps Hurricane Katrina. Nearly 15 years later, and Louisiana continues to see its impacts lingering today—especially as homeowners struggle to rebuild amid new disasters. The state saw severe flooding last year, as well as tornadoes earlier this year. These extreme weather events may not be hurricanes, but they highlight how hurricanes can worsen situations when an area (especially one home to marginalized communities without the resources to properly recuperate) is prone to natural disasters.  

Hurricane season ends November 30.