New hurricane forecast: ‘Explosive’ season for Houston, Galveston and U.S.

After Hurricane Harvey, Houston residents survey their flooded neighborhood near Buffalo Bayou and the Barker Reservoir dam on Aug. 29, 2017. (Michael Stravato For The Texas Tribune, Michael Stravato For The Texas Tribune)

Now is the time that different educational, commercial and scientific communities begin to release their 2024 Hurricane Forecasts and the one that landed in my email box today is alarming. AccuWeather’s forecast is calling for what could be a record storm season for the United States and one of their ‘hurricane bullseyes’ is right over Galveston. In 2020, we had 30 tropical storms and this new forecast predicts that we could actually beat that number.

The official forecast they are going with is 20-25 Named Storms and of those storms we will have 8-12 Hurricanes and of those hurricanes 4-7 will be Major, Category 3 or higher (111mph+). As far as impacts, 4-6 Direct U.S. Impacts are forecast with Texas, the Florida Panhandle, South Florida & the Carolinas facing a “heightened risk”. Here’s that table along with the ‘average’ season of 14-7-3, whatever average is anymore!

CREDIT: AccuWeather

The record warmth of the Atlantic Ocean is one factor to blame as that warm water is the fuel for tropical cyclones and the ocean temps are running more along what we see in June, not late March. Notice the dark red colors in the Gulf of Mexico indicating 5°-10° above normal already!

CREDIT: AccuWeather

So the warm fuel is there along with a flip from El Nino to La Nina. The El Nino weather pattern creates wind over the Caribbean which tears down developing storms, but that is leaving us, being replaced with a less friendly La Nina:

CREDIT: AccuWeather

More storms coming off Africa are also forecast increasing the chance any of those would develop tropically, and then there is the question of where would those hurricanes go? A weak Bermuda high steers them safely across the ocean, but a strong Bermuda high sends them into the Eastern Seaboard and Gulf of Mexico.

CREDIT: AccuWeather

AccuWeather forecasters predict that with warmer waters, the Bermuda High will strengthen, making the US and Gulf more vulnerable. While there are a lot of dots on this next graphic, they have put a ‘red’ one right over Galveston.

CREDIT: AccuWeather

As to the warming waters, of course there is a climate change connection. I’ll save that for another blog. Bottom line is, this season is shaping up by most counts to be very active and now is the time to have a plan in case one of those storms indeed heads our way. More forecasts to come over the next month, for sure!


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About the Author

KPRC 2's chief meteorologist with four decades of experience forecasting Houston's weather.

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