The 2021 Atlantic hurricane season is expected to be another busy one. Last year saw the most active season on record with 30 named storms. The primary reason for last year's active season was La Nina that strengthened throughout the season. La Niña is the cooling of waters in the Pacific near the equator off the coast of South America. Whenever this happens, vertical wind shear over the Atlantic and Caribbean is lower, allowing storms a chance to develop and strengthen without interference from these winds.
Although La Niña is weaker this year, and could possibly weaken further to what's called ENSO Neutral conditions (neither cooler or warmer), the wind shear in the Atlantic is expected to remain low. You combine that with warmer than average water temperatures and higher than normal oceanic heat content in the Atlantic, you have a recipe for another active season filled with storms. Other factors that could lead to a more active season are a positive AMO or Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation. AMO in its positive phase (which it is in right now and has been since the late 90s) means water temperatures in the Atlantic are warmer than average.
The position of the Bermuda-Azores high is also a factor. This large, sprawling high pressure system steers storms across the Atlantic from Africa toward the U.S. Depending on its strength and position, it can help bring storms into the U.S. or carry them harmlessly into the Atlantic. Last year, this high was unusually strong, and it protected the Florida Peninsula from a direct strike. Most of the storms went into the Gulf and affected Louisiana or Texas or headed toward the northeast. There are indications the Bermuda-Azores high will not be as strong this year, and this could mean that Florida could be in the path of these long-track storms, or they could re-curve before they reach us. We just don't have the skill to predict that this far in advance.
Regardless, you need to prepare. It doesn't matter if 10 storms are expected or 30. If you are prepared for just one you are in great shape. Take time to review your safety plan with your family so you will know what to do in case we have to deal with a storm down the road this season.
FOX 4 CHIEF METEOROLOGIST DEREK BEASLEY