Forecasters expect more hurricanes than usual this year Federal forecasters expect more hurricanes than usual this year. Climate change is driving larger, more destructive storms. This is the seventh year in a row with an above-average forecast.

Get ready for another destructive Atlantic hurricane season

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SACHA PFEIFFER, HOST:

All right. We're just one week away from the start of hurricane season, and federal forecasters are predicting a whopping 14 to 21 named storms this year. It's part of a trend of more destructive storms, storms driven in part by climate change. Rebecca Hersher from NPR's climate team has more.

REBECCA HERSHER, BYLINE: Between six and 10 of the storms are forecast to be full-blown hurricanes, which is a lot. Rick Spinrad is the head of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, NOAA.

RICK SPINRAD: NOAA is predicting an above normal 2022 Atlantic hurricane season, which would make this year the seventh consecutive above normal season.

HERSHER: That's bad news for the millions of people who live in the potential path of a storm, which includes a huge swath of the U.S. from the northeast to the southeast and the Gulf Coast. Matthew Rosencrans is NOAA's lead hurricane forecaster.

MATTHEW ROSENCRANS: So hurricanes are anywhere from 200 to a thousand miles across in their impact. So you can be even a thousand miles from the coastline and have an impact.

HERSHER: Flooding is a big impact, he says. Climate change is making storms rainier. That was on deadly display just last year with Hurricane Ida. It made landfall in Louisiana with powerful wind and rain and killed dozens of people there. Then it moved northeast across nine states.

ERIC ADAMS: Just last year, the remnants of Hurricane Ida caused torrential rains and flash flooding that killed 13 New Yorkers in basement apartments.

HERSHER: That's New York City Mayor Eric Adams. And to underscore how widespread hurricane risk really is, NOAA announced its 2022 hurricane forecast in New York City, not exactly the place most Americans think of when they think of hurricanes. As for why we find ourselves staring down another destructive hurricane season, there have always been cycles of more and less active hurricane seasons. The last seven years or so have been an active cycle. But climate change is also a big part of it. Hotter and hotter ocean water create perfect conditions for hurricanes. And Matthew Rosencrans says this year the water in the Gulf of Mexico could be extra hot because of something called the loop current.

ROSENCRANS: It's an area of warm water that kind of breaks off and moves from east to west across the Gulf of Mexico.

HERSHER: Imagine a river of hot water looping into the Gulf of Mexico, and then a blob detaches and just sits there right in the path of any hurricane that's headed toward land.

ROSENCRANS: If a storm does form and move across that area, it's kind of like moving on to like an area where it can be kind of supercharged really quickly.

HERSHER: That could mean storms that get big and dangerous very quickly, too quickly for people to evacuate, or it could help create storms that dump catastrophic amounts of rain like Ida. Federal forecasters are clear - get ready for a tough hurricane season. It starts June 1 and runs through November. Rebecca Hersher, NPR News.

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