With the 2022 North Atlantic hurricane season officially beginning on June 1st, analysts at RMS have warned the insurance and reinsurance industry of the potential for another above-average year for hurricane activity.
Several forecasting agencies have already forecast above normal activity for this year’s season, which runs for six months through to November 30th.
The US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has forecast 14-21 named storms, of which 6-10 are expected to become hurricanes, and 3-6 of those are forecast to become major hurricanes (Category 3 or stronger).
On average, the North Atlantic sees 14 named storms, 7 hurricanes, and 3 major hurricanes.
These forecasts reflect the state of the two main oceanic and climate factors that historically dictate hurricane activity in the basin: the El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) and sea surface temperatures in the equatorial North Atlantic.
RMS notes that ENSO is forecast to remain in a La Niña phase through the summer.
Such conditions reduce the vertical wind shear across the North Atlantic, which typically enhances hurricane activity by providing a more favorable atmosphere for storm development and intensification.
Moreover, sea surface temperatures in the tropical North Atlantic are expected to remain above average throughout the summer, RMS adds, which also typically increases hurricane activity in the basin.
If the current forecasts verify, 2022 would be a record seventh consecutive above normal season.
However, RMS also noted that these forecasts only provide a guide to the anticipated level of activity across the North Atlantic, and do not provide an indication of the expected number of storms to threaten land or make landfall.
Although long-term statistics indicate that the probability of a hurricane making landfall in the US increases during more active seasons, there are notable exceptions.
“2010 was a particularly active year but only one tropical storm made landfall in the US,” analysts observed. “Conversely, Hurricane Andrew, one of the most intense and costliest hurricanes in U.S. history, was one of only seven storms to develop during the quiet 1992 season. It only takes one landfalling storm to make the season a memorable one.”