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Another Devastating Atlantic Hurricane Season Forecast for 2021

FILE - A satellite image made available by the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration shows a tropical storm approaching the South Carolina coast, May 27, 2020.

The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) warns the United States and countries in the Caribbean and Central America to be prepared for what is expected to be another above-normal Atlantic hurricane season.

The outlook for this year’s hurricane season, which began Tuesday, is grim. Last year’s record-breaking season had 30 named tropical storms, including 19 hurricanes, six of them major.

The WMO says the 2021 Atlantic hurricane season is likely to be less active, with between 13 and 20 named storms, of which six to 10 could become hurricanes.

WMO spokeswoman Clare Nullis says the coming season is likely to be particularly difficult for countries, such as those in Central America, that are still recovering from last year’s devastating storms.

“Emergency managers are obviously very concerned that if another tropical storm or hurricane does impact, this will have serious consequences. It only takes one hurricane to make landfall in a season to wipe out years of social and economic development.” she said.

Nullis says climate change has an influence on seasonal storms, which are increasing in intensity and frequency. She says carbon dioxide concentrations remain at record high levels and will continue to drive global warming.

“All naturally occurring climate events now take place in the context of climate change, which is increasing global temperatures. As we know, it is exacerbating extreme weather and it is impacting seasonal rainfall patterns,” Nullis said.

While 2021 got off to a relatively cool start, Nullis cautioned against believing that there is a pause in climate change. She noted that the WMO predicts a 90% likelihood of at least one year between 2021-2025 becoming the warmest on record, dislodging 2016 from its top ranking. Globally averaged temperatures in 2016 were 0.99 degrees Celsius warmer than the mid-20th century mean.

The Atlantic hurricane season ends November 30.