Ida Battering Louisiana With Winds Stronger Than Katrina
Trees sway in the wind from Hurricane Ida in downtown New Orleans, Louisiana, on August 29th, 2021.
Image: Luke Sharrett/Bloomberg via Getty Images

There is a 65 percent chance of an above-average season in the Atlantic in the year 2022, according to forecasters. There is a possibility of more severe storms in the Gulf of Mexico this year.

According to the season outlook briefing, between 14 and 21 tropical storms could grow powerful enough to be named this season. Typically, the Atlantic Hurricane season starts on June 1st and has about 14 named storms. Colorado State University predicted 19 named storms this year.

Six to 10 storms are expected to strengthen into hurricanes. Between three and six major hurricanes are forecast by the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration, with wind speeds of at least 112 miles per hour.

There is a troubling development in the Gulf of Mexico. The loop current has moved far north for this time of year. The current flows like a river within the sea and brings warmer water from the Caribbean to the US Gulf Coast. That news is worrying because hurricanes feed off heat energy.

University of Miami oceanography professor Nick Shay says that it is the 800 pound gorilla in the Gulf.

Shay is concerned that the current behavior of the loop current looks similar to the hurricanes of 2005 in the Atlantic Hurricane season.

Shay says that in 2005, we have a storm in the Gulf of Mexico. After crossing paths with the warmer waters of the loop current, both hurricanes developed into Category 5 storms. Hurricanes Ida and Harvey were strengthened by the loop current.

The water of the loop current is saltier. The difference in temperature and salinity between the loop current and the rest of the gulf might bring surface temperatures down.

The current holds onto heat at deeper depths than the surrounding Gulf. The water can reach up to 500 feet below the surface. Outside of the current, those kinds of temperatures only reach 100 feet below the surface.

Shay cautions that it's too early to tell if something like 2005 will happen this season. It will depend on whether the storms move toward the loop current or the large pools of hot water that spin off from the current. If storms form during favorable atmospheric conditions and low wind shear, the loop current can be successful.

Changes in the wind's speed and direction can weaken a storm. A weather pattern called La Ni F1;a is expected to keep wind shear low, which could lead to stronger storms.

The west African monsoon is affecting this year's Atlantic season. The west African monsoon can cause stronger easterly waves that can cause many of the strongest and longest lived hurricanes.

Climate change is expected to make hurricanes more common. Warmer than average sea surface temperatures in the Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean Sea are likely to increase the number of hurricanes this season.

Evidence shows that hurricanes have begun to intensify more quickly and keep their strength longer as global average temperatures rise. The warm eddies of the loop current seem to hold more heat than they have in the past.

It would be the seventh consecutive above-normal season for the Atlantic if the predictions come true.