The 2021 hurricane season has now ended. With 21 named storms, including seven hurricanes (winds of at least 74 mph) and four major hurricanes (winds of at least 111 mph), it was the third most active hurricane season on record.
In terms of the number of storms, this year was only eclipsed by 2020, which holds the record with 30 named storms, and 2005, which 27 had named storms (and one unnamed storm). It was the sixth consecutive above-normal Atlantic hurricane season.
Below we’ll round up the most significant events of the 2021 hurricane season.
We Ran Out of Names Again
For the second year in a row, meteorologists ran out of the World Meteorological Organization’s list of names for storms. The only other time forecasters have run out of names was in 2005.
Climate Change is Driving More Active Seasons
NOAA stated that climate change is leading to more active seasons.
Matthew Rosencrans, lead seasonal hurricane forecaster at NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center says, “Climate factors, which include La Niña, above-normal sea surface temperatures earlier in the season, and above-average West African Monsoon rainfall were the primary contributors for this above-average hurricane season.”
Hurricane Ida Was Most Powerful Hurricane of the Year
Hurricane Ida hit Louisiana on 29 August, which was the 16th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. While the hurricane was less deadly and costly due to improvements made in the wake of Katrina, there were 115 deaths, including 95 in the United States and 20 in Venezuela.
With 150 mph winds, and rainfall of between 120 and 250mm in Louisiana, the damage could still top $95 billion, which would make it the 7th costliest hurricane since 2000.
Storms to Become More Intense
Scientists have confidently predicted that the proportion of tropical cyclones that reach very intense (category 4-5) levels is expected to increase around the world. Driven by climate change, the peak winds and rainfall rate will increase for these storms.
Storms Formed Before the Official Start of the Season
For the seventh consecutive year, a named storm formed before the official season on June 1. Tropical Storm Ana formed north of Bermuda on May 23.
After an active start and nine named storms in September, the season’s final two months were relatively quiet.
The next hurricane season begins on June 1, 2022, with NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center issuing its first predictions for the season in May.