With summer finally here, so to is the anticipation and anxiety surrounding the Atlantic hurricane season. With memories of past devastation still fresh in our minds, meteorologists and climate scientists are once again turning their attention to predicting what Mother Nature has in store for us this year. The forecasts for the 2024 Atlantic hurricane season are laden with both cautionary tales and hopeful signs, painting a complex picture of what may lie ahead.

In recent years, the Atlantic basin has experienced a noticeable uptick in hurricane activity, attributed in part to the warming of sea surface temperatures and changes in atmospheric conditions driven by climate change. The 2023 season saw a record-breaking number of named storms, with several powerful hurricanes wreaking havoc along U.S. coastal communities. As we brace for the 2024 season, experts warn that similar patterns may persist, raising concerns about the resilience of coastal infrastructure and the safety of vulnerable populations.

One of the key factors influencing this year’s predictions is the state of the El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) phenomenon. ENSO refers to the periodic warming (El Niño) and cooling (La Niña) of sea surface temperatures in the central and eastern Pacific Ocean, which can have profound effects on global weather patterns, including hurricane activity in the Atlantic. While the presence of El Niño tends to suppress hurricane formation by increasing wind shear over the tropical Atlantic, La Niña typically has the opposite effect, creating conditions conducive to storm development.

As of the latest observations, ENSO-neutral conditions are prevailing, meaning that neither El Niño nor La Niña is exerting a dominant influence on Atlantic weather patterns. This neutral phase introduces a degree of uncertainty into the seasonal outlook, making it challenging for forecasters to accurately predict the number and intensity of storms we can expect to see. However, historical data and statistical models provide some guidance, suggesting that we should prepare for an above-average hurricane season, with the potential for several major hurricanes to form.

In addition to ENSO, other climate drivers such as the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation (AMO) and sea surface temperatures in the tropical Atlantic also play a role in shaping hurricane activity. The phase of the AMO, which refers to cyclical variations in North Atlantic sea surface temperatures, can influence the frequency and intensity of hurricanes over multi-decadal periods. Currently, the AMO is in a positive phase, characterized by warmer-than-average sea surface temperatures, which could contribute to an active hurricane season.

Another factor that experts are closely monitoring is the potential influence of human-induced climate change on hurricane behavior. While it is difficult to attribute individual storms to climate change, there is growing evidence to suggest that rising global temperatures may be intensifying hurricane activity and increasing the likelihood of extreme weather events. Warmer oceans provide more energy for hurricanes to feed on, potentially leading to stronger and more destructive storms.

In light of these factors, it is imperative that we take proactive measures to prepare for the upcoming hurricane season. While we cannot control the weather, we can mitigate its impacts through informed decision-making.

Despite the uncertainties and challenges that lie ahead, there is reason to remain cautiously optimistic. Advances in meteorological science and technology have significantly improved our ability to track and predict hurricanes, giving us valuable lead time to prepare and respond. 

As we wait to see what the 2024 Atlantic hurricane season has in store for Bermuda, let us heed the lessons of the past and approach the future with vigilance, resilience, and a commitment to safeguarding lives and livelihoods in the face of nature’s fury. By working together and embracing a culture of preparedness, we can weather the storms that lie ahead and emerge stronger on the other side.

For information regarding how to prepare for an impending storm, contact BF&M.

Read more from our Hurricane Season 2024 series, HERE!