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2021 Hurricane Season Will Be Active, NC State Researchers Predict

A satellite image of the North Atlantic with 5 active hurricanes on September 14.

For Immediate Release

Lian Xie

The 2021 Atlantic hurricane season will see 15 to 18 named storms forming in the Atlantic basin, according to researchers at North Carolina State University. The Atlantic basin includes the entire Atlantic Ocean, the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea.

The number of named storms predicted is above the long-term average according to Lian Xie, professor of marine, earth and atmospheric sciences at NC State. The long-term (1951 to 2020) average of named storms is 11.

Of the predicted 15 to 18 named storms, seven to nine may grow strong enough to become hurricanes (the historical average is six), with the possibility of two to three storms becoming major hurricanes.

The Gulf of Mexico will see an active hurricane season, though one more in line with historical averages, as Xie’s data indicate the likelihood of three to five named storms forming in the region, with two to four of them becoming hurricanes, and one becoming a major hurricane. Historic averages for the Gulf are three named storms and one hurricane.

Xie’s methodology evaluates more than 100 years of historical data on Atlantic Ocean hurricane positions and intensity, as well as other variables, including weather patterns and sea-surface temperatures, to predict how many storms will form in each ocean basin.

NC State graduate research assistant Xia Sun, graduate student Shahil Shah, and Xipeng Shen, professor of computer science, also contributed to the research.

The Atlantic hurricane season runs from June 1 through Nov. 30.