The 2021 hurricane season will be more active than the normal post-1990 year, NOAA meteorologists said Thursday, as climate change continues to stretch the federal government’s ability to respond to disasters as well as what can be considered usual, typical, or routine. If forecasts are correct, 2021 will be the sixth consecutive year with a hurricane season more active than normal. While less active than last year’s record-shattering hurricane season, NOAA expects 2021 to see 13 to 20 named storms (14 is typical since 1990), 6 to 10 hurricanes (7 is typical), and 3 to 5 major hurricanes Category 3 or stronger (3 is typical).
Warmer-than-normal Atlantic surface temperatures will fuel those storms. FEMA, however, is running on fumes, the New York Times reports. Still managing recovery from storms as far back as Hurricane Harvey in 2017, managing COVID-19 vaccination sites, trying to shelter children, and preparing for what experts say will be an exceptionally destructive, drought-fuelled wildfire season, the agency has 29% fewer emergency workers ready to deploy than it did at the beginning of last year’s hurricane season. (NOAA prediction: AP, Washington Post $, New York Times $, USA Today, E&E $, Reuters, Politico Pro $, The Verge; FEMA: New York Times $; Climate Signals background: Hurricanes, 2020 Atlantic hurricane season, Wildfires, Drought, Hurricane Harvey)