Disaster Discourse: The Hagerty Blog

The 2017 Atlantic Hurricane Season Begins: NOAA Forecasts Above Average Hurricane Activity in 2017

June 1st marked the official beginning of the 2017 Atlantic Hurricane Season. After multiple years of El Niño depressing overall hurricane activity, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is forecasting ‘above-normal’ activity for 2017. NOAA’s current estimate includes an upper bound estimate of 17 named storms, 9 hurricanes, and 4 major hurricanes. The season runs from June 1 through November 30 each year and typically peaks between August and September, but damaging late season storms like Hurricane Sandy are possible.

Uncertainty, and the Need to Be Prepared, Remains High

NOAA’s current estimates show an 80 percent chance of a normal or above-normal hurricane season. This is compared to pre-season forecasts of a 70 percent chance of a normal or above-normal season in 2016 and a 30 percent chance in 2015. This upward trend is mostly due to the weakening of the recent El Niño cycle and the potential start of a La Niña cycle. The biggest area of uncertainty for forecasters and climate modelers is how quickly this transition from El Niño to La Niña will occur, as this is the driving factor behind a slow or active Hurricane Season. You can learn more about El Niño and La Niña here.

As always, individuals and communities should be prepared in advance of a storm. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) maintains a website detailing hurricane preparedness here. You can learn more about Hagerty Consulting’s preparedness activities here. Even if NOAA’s projections are high and 2017 proves to be a less active season overall, all it takes is one storm to cause severe damage. The 1992 Atlantic Hurricane Season had only six named storms, but one of those was Hurricane Andrew, caused 65 fatalities and over $25 billion in damages in 1992 dollars.

As the season progresses, Disaster Discourse will continue to monitor Atlantic hurricane activity and provide situational awareness updates.

Kevin Fuller is a Recovery Manager for Hagerty Consulting based out of our Washington, DC office. When he’s out of the office, he enjoys art history/museums, annoying his wife with his television watching decisions, and being continually frustrated with the state of the Georgetown basketball program. Hagerty Consulting is always looking for intellectually curious people with a commitment to the public sector to join our team.