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Tuesday marks start of 2021 Atlantic hurricane season

NOAA is forecasting an above average season, though not as active as 2020

MACON, Ga. — Tuesday marks the start of the 2021 Atlantic hurricane season, and forecasters are expecting more storms than average for the year. NOAA's Climate Prediction Center is forecasting a 60% chance of an above normal season.

Credit: Meteorologist Alex Forbes, WMAZ-TV
Averages and forecast from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

Hurricane season runs in the Atlantic basin from June 1 to November 30 each year. For the past seven years, including 2021, a tropical or subtropical storm has formed prior to June 1.

Subtropical Storm Ana was active from May 22-24, 2021, and did not threaten any landmass. The next name on the 2021 list is Bill. 

Credit: Meteorologist Alex Forbes, WMAZ-TV
Names used by the National Hurricane Center for the 2021 Atlantic hurricane season

Central Georgia faces a unique threat from tropical weather, given its proximity to the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico. 

Despite last year's active season, Macon and surrounding areas faced no major impacts from a tropical system. The most recent storm to cause significant damage in the area is Hurricane Michael, which struck in October 2018.

“Although NOAA scientists don’t expect this season to be as busy as last year, it only takes one storm to devastate a community,” said Ben Friedman, acting NOAA administrator. “The forecasters at the National Hurricane Center are well-prepared with significant upgrades to our computer models, emerging observation techniques, and the expertise to deliver the life-saving forecasts that we all depend on during this, and every, hurricane season.” 

One change for the 2021 season is the retirement of the Greek alphabet as the back up list of names should the season exhaust the list of 21 names approved by the World Meteorological Organization. Taking its place is a supplemental list of names, a few of which are Heath, Sophie and Will.

2021 will also be the first year new averages are used for the Atlantic tropical basin. In meteorology, averages are calculated based on the previous 30 years in 10 year increments. Now, the average period is from 1991-2020. The previous average period used through 2020 was 1981-2010.

2020 shattered several records, including the number of named storms. In 2020, we saw 30 named storms, beating the previous record of 27 set in 2005. However, the 2005 hurricane season remains the costliest hurricane season on record with an estimated economic impact of $171 billion. 2020's economic impact is estimated to be just over $50 billion. Both values are according to the National Centers for Environmental Information.

Check in with 13WMAZ throughout the season for the latest on the tropics and any threat posed to central Georgia. 

RELATED | Comparing the 2005 and 2020 Atlantic Hurricane Seasons

VISIT | 13WMAZ Hurricane Center

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