Insights & News

MetSwift’s 2022 Atlantic Hurricane Season Forecast

14th January 2022

The year’s barely begun, yet MetSwift are already looking ahead to 2022’s Atlantic Hurricane Season.

World-Leading Predictions

The reason is simple: tested against 2010-2020, predictions based on the December analogues model update have demonstrated substantial skill. Not only that, but the accuracy exceeded that of public forecasts made by all other known organisations, even several months later in the year.

MetSwift’s December issued hurricane count predictions are 26% more accurate than TSR’s. In fact, they’re 17% more accurate than the best-performing forecast from any other organisation in any month (NSCU, in April).

It’s rare for more than one hurricane to strike the same region in a single season. So, the more that occur, the wider the likely combined area of impact on land areas. This is a crucial consideration for the insurance sector when assessing the risk of disruption to events, damage to properties, and so on.

Table showing results from verification of 2010-2020 hurricane season predictions made by MetSwift and 6 other organisations. The typical error is the average difference to observed (regardless of whether above or below).

Results from verification of 2010-2020 hurricane season predictions made by MetSwift and 6 other organisations. The typical error is the average difference to observed (regardless of whether above or below).

The 2022 Forecast: Busy Until August, Then Near Average

As shown below, the season is forecast to race out of the starting blocks, with above-normal pre-peak (Apr-Jul) and August activity. Without forecasts to the contrary, there may be a sense that another very busy season is getting underway.

Graph showing a monthly breakdown of MetSwift's predictions for the 2022 Hurricane Season. Three categories: Tropical storm or stronger, Category 1 hurricane or stronger, Category 3 hurricane or stronger.A tabular view of the information presented in the graph above.

However, pre-season has little correlation with what goes on during the peak. MetSwift expects this year to demonstrate that well. Activity is forecast to drop to near or slightly below average levels this Aug-Dec. We  expect the peak (Aug-Oct) and full season tropical storm and hurricane counts to be the lowest since 2018.

This drop in activity is connected to anticipated changes in the tropical Pacific Ocean. As of January 2022, there have been two autumn-winters in a row with unusually cold waters Hawaii eastward. This is known as a ‘double-dip’ La Niña event, which supports above-normal Atlantic hurricane season activity, with 2020 and 2021 being no exceptions.

Following this sort of event, an El Niño is much more likely than usual to develop by the following autumn. This is the opposite to La Niña, so its effect should not surprise you: a suppression of Atlantic hurricane season activity.

Odds are, this will be counterbalanced by an exceptionally warm North Atlantic in autumn 2022, hence a near-normal activity level is forecast.

Overall, 2022 is forecast to be a near-average season for hurricanes and major hurricanes, but feature 2 additional named storms and accumulated cyclone energy (ACE) slightly above normal.

Regional Breakdown

When it comes to how hard hurricanes hit, it’s not just how many develop that’s important, but where they occur. One in the open North Atlantic is far less concerning than one in the Gulf of Mexico, surrounded by land. Because of this, it pays to drill down beyond the basin-wide figures.

MetSwift are pushing the envelope by offering a forecast view of hurricane season path probability. Below, this risk is shown for tropical cyclones of category 1 strength (Saffir-Simpson scale) or above, for each month of the peak season (Aug-Oct). Path probabilities are based on all historical tropical cyclone paths 1950-2020 on the left, and the MetSwift analogue years on the right.

August

Tip: You can click on an image to view a larger version.

September

October

Best to Be Prepared

The highest risk areas have a near 1 in 10 chance of one or more hurricane landfalls within the month. That implies 9 in every 10 hurricane seasons will pass without such a strong impact. Yet, as anyone who has experienced a hurricane first-hand will attest, this is no reason to be complacent.

It pays to be prepared, to stock up on supplies and have an evacuation plan if the worst should come to pass.

However busy this season proves to be, I hope 2022 keeps tropical cyclone impacts to a minimum – and not just in the Atlantic! It’s the last thing anyone needs to be dealing with in the current climate.

 

James Peacock MSc
Head Meteorologist at MetSwift

Cover image shows category 4 Hurricane Joaquin as viewed by NOAA’s GOES West satellite on Oct. 1 2015. Licensed under CC BY.

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