The official start of hurricane season begins June 1st. Though, after the record-setting year of 2020 and a trend of earlier and earlier tropical storms and hurricanes, that date may soon become one of the past.
We know that warming sea surface temperatures add fuel to hurricanes. The warmer the waters, generally the stronger the storms. And as our climate has warmed, on average, our tropical storms have trended earlier and earlier.
2020, of course, was an outlier. You can't use a record-setter as an example of a changing norm. However, you can use it as an indicator of possibilities to come, as projections for a busier than average hurricane season continue for several years in a row now.
Tropical Storm Arthur formed on May 16, 2020, weeks before the official start of hurricane season.
In fact, out of 30 named storms in 2020, 27 of them set the record for earliest numbered storm of the year (3, 5-30).
The first one of this year, Subtropical Storm Ana, formed on May 22nd and faded out to sea. This marks the seventh consecutive year with a named tropical storm before June 1st.
As this trend continues, experts with the World Meteorological Organization considered backing up the start of hurricane season to May 15th. They tabled the discussion for now.
While there are many, many things we can attribute with certainty due to rising temperatures, it's difficult to really say that warming temperatures are directly causing earlier storm development. The trend may be a friend to the theory, but the amount of data to reliably compare our last decade to the last hundred years or so is simply not there.
What we can say confidently, however, is stronger hurricanes that intensify more rapidly (wind speed increasing at least 35MPH in 24 hours) are likely due to warmer sea surface temperatures tied to climate change.
And a warmer atmosphere can hold more moisture, leading to more rainfall in these storms.
If you look back in your mental rolodex, you'll remember the effects of strong tropical storms and weakening hurricanes have had in our area. Think Lee, Agnes, last year's Isaias just to name a few.
So with the season on our doorstep, now is no better time to make sure you have a plan in place as hurricane season ramps up.
If you live in an easily flooded area, make sure to know where to go and have your possessions stored in a safe spot if water were to rise near you. Remember the phrase "Turn around, don't drown" if you drive near rising water. And as always, make sure to stay Weather Smart with the FOX43 Weather Team on-air, on social media and on the FOX43 app.
Until next time,
-Chief Meteorologist Bradon Long