Colorado State University increases forecast for number of hurricanes in 2024

By Erwin Seba

HOUSTON (Reuters) - Colorado State University (CSU) weather forecasters on Tuesday increased the number of hurricanes expected in 2024 in the closely watched July update to their long-range forecast.

“Hurricane Beryl, a deep tropical category 5 hurricane, is also a likely harbinger of a hyperactive season,” according to the forecast released on Tuesday.

At least 14 deaths are attributed to Hurricane Beryl, which devastated Grenada and Jamaica in the Caribbean before smashing across Mexico's Yucatan peninsula then turning north to make final landfall on Monday in Texas, knocking out power for millions and closing major oil ports.

In the forecast released on Tuesday, CSU meteorologists said they expect six major hurricanes, with wind speeds above 111 miles per hour (178 kilometers per hour), out of 12 hurricanes from 25 named storms before the season ends on Nov. 30.

In a forecast issued on April 13, the CSU team forecast five major hurricanes out of 11 hurricanes from 23 named storms.

A tropical storm has sustained wind speeds of 39 mph (63 kmh) and becomes a hurricane when sustained winds reach 74 mph (119 kmh). A category 5 hurricane has sustained winds of at least 157 mph (252 kmh).

An average hurricane season produces 14 named storms, of which seven lead to hurricanes and three become major cyclones.

The CSU forecasters cite two primary reasons for above average hurricane forecasts. Seas are hotter than they are normally, providing more energy to feed tropical cyclones. Also, the absence this year of an El Nino weather pattern, which was present in 2023. El Nino produces strong winds that break apart hurricanes.

"While early season storm activity in the western Atlantic typically has little relationship with overall basinwide activity, deep tropical hurricane activity in the tropical Atlantic and eastern Caribbean (such as we saw with Beryl) is often associated with hyperactive seasons," according to the forecast.

In a May forecast U.S. government meteorologists said they expect between four and seven major hurricanes among a projected eight to 13 hurricanes, which could result from an expected 17 to 25 named tropical storms.

(Reporting by Erwin Seba; Editing by Aurora Ellis)