Tracking the Tropics: Was 2021 hurricane season as active as predicted?
TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — As November comes to a close, so does yet another Atlantic hurricane season.
Before the season started on June 1, forecasters predicted another season of above-average tropical activity in the Atlantic basin. So how did the actual season measure up to the season outlooks?
It may seem like this season was not as active as expected, likely due to how many storms developed and ended up staying out over water instead of impacting land, but 2021 did end up being above average.
Based on data from 1991 through 2020, the average number of named storms we see in an Atlantic hurricane season is 14, including 7 hurricanes. NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center anticipated 15 to 21 named storms this year, including seven to 10 hurricanes – three to five of which were expected to be major. Colorado State University predicted 18 named storms with eight hurricanes – four of them major.
With nothing expected to develop within the next week, we will likely end the 2021 hurricane season with a total of 21 named storms, including seven hurricanes. Four of the storms developed into major hurricanes, reaching Category 3 strength or higher. The 2021 major hurricanes were Hurricane Grace, Hurricane Ida, Hurricane Larry and Hurricane Sam.
Only eight of this year’s 21 named storms made landfall in the United States.
Hurricane Ida made landfall in Louisiana as a major Category 4 storm – the only major hurricane to impact the United States this year, and one of only two hurricanes to make U.S. landfall. Nicholas was the other hurricane, and made landfall in Texas as a Category 1 storm.
Claudette made landfall in Louisiana in the early morning hours of June 19 – just as it finally organized into a tropical storm. The storm did not retain strength for long, and weakened to a tropical depression later that same day.
Tropical Storm Danny was a small tropical storm that made landfall in South Carolina on June 28. It weakened to a tropical depression shortly after landfall.
Elsa reached hurricane strength on July 6 as it move offshore and up the western coast of Florida. It then weakened to a tropical storm again before making landfall along the northern Florida Gulf Coast on July 7.
Less than a month after Elsa, Tropical Storm Fred made landfall on the eastern Florida Panhandle on Aug. 16.
Henri reached hurricane strength on Aug. 21, but weakened before making landfall on Aug. 22 along the coast of Rhode Island.
Tropical Storm Mindy was a short-lived storm that made landfall in the Florida Panhandle on Sept. 8.
All of the names on the 2021 tropical cyclone name list were used up, beginning with Ana and ending with Wanda. If another storm had formed after Wanda, it would have become the first storm to be named using a new supplemental list from the World Meteorological Organization.
Before this year, the Greek alphabet was used when the list of tropical cyclone names was exhausted before the end of the hurricane season. That happened in 2005 and again during last year’s hyperactive 2020 hurricane season. This year, the WMO’s Hurricane Committee decided to retire the Greek alphabet to avoid confusion and distraction.