Research meteorologists at Colorado State University are forecasting a third consecutive above-average hurricane season this year in the Atlantic Basin. The Tropical Weather and Climate Prediction Center located at the Fort Collins-based institution predicts 19 named storms for the 2022 season, with nine of those reaching hurricane strength and four attaining major hurricane status.

Sea surface temperatures across the eastern and central tropical Atlantic are currently near average, while Caribbean and subtropical Atlantic surface temperatures are warmer than normal, said Phil Klotzbach, principal researcher.

An average season has 14 tropical storms, seven of which become hurricanes. Tropical storms with sustained wind speeds that exceed 74 mph are classified as hurricanes; those with sustained wind speeds that exceed 111 mph are designated major hurricanes.

The center’s early April forecast is followed by monthly updates from early June to August and biweekly updates from early August to mid-October. The Atlantic hurricane season runs June 1 through Nov. 30.

The previous two years were among the most active on record, with 30 named storms in 2020 and 21 last year. If the CSU prediction holds true for 2022, this will be the seventh consecutive year with above-normal storm activity.

CSU researchers cite a lack of El Niño development and warmer-than-normal seawater temperatures in the subtropical Atlantic for the trend toward more frequent and severe storm development.

Atmospheric conditions related to El Niño in the tropical Pacific increases wind shear, suppressing storm development. La Niña conditions, marked by cooler ocean water, are not expected to be much of factor this year.

“Coastal residents are reminded that it only takes one hurricane making landfall to make it an active season for them,” CSU researchers said. “They should prepare the same for every season, regardless of how much activity is predicted.”

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is expected to release its hurricane season outlook on May 24.