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Florida researcher predicts 22 named storms, 5 major hurricanes in 2022

Josh Fiallo, Tampa Bay Times on

Published in Weather News

SARASOTA, Fla. — Tampa Bay residents have a tendency to brush aside concerns about hurricane season as annual forecasts arrive each spring.

Bob Bunting understands why so many are carefree: A major hurricane hasn’t struck the region in more than 100 years. But Bunting, a hurricane researcher and chief executive officer for the Climate Adaptation Center in Sarasota, says that’s a dangerous way to approach hurricane season any year, but especially as of late.

That’s because storm seasons are becoming longer and fiercer on average, he said, meaning Tampa Bay’s centurylong string of luck could end sooner rather than later. And, with the Climate Adaptation Center forecasting 2022 to be a seventh straight above-average season, the “big” storm could strike as soon as this year.

“We know how to react to a disaster in this country better than anyone,” Bunting said. “But we need to see more resources thrown at preparing to prevent these disasters from happening or, at least, minimize them.”

While it’s impossible to predict the exact places storms could strike months in advance, Bunting is confident there will be a large volume of storms this summer that could put Tampa Bay in harm’s way.

During a Zoom conference on Friday morning, Bunting released his forecast for hurricane season: 22 named storms, nine to 11 hurricanes and 5 major storms. An average season over the last 30 years, by comparison, is 14 named storms, seven hurricanes and three major storms.

 

Bunting forecast a slightly more active season than his colleagues at Colorado State University, which projected 19 named storms and four major hurricanes in 2022. AccuWeather’s forecast also called for four major hurricanes and 16 to 20 named storms.

“We’re having more and more hurricanes, and more and more severe hurricanes,” Bunting said. “It’s only a matter of time one hits a major populated area and it’s a catastrophe.”

Bunting says his active-season forecast for 2022 is largely due to sea surface temperatures being warmer than usual already.

Warm water acts as “rocket fuel” for hurricanes, Bunting said, and water off the Florida coast is as much as four degrees warmer than average this April. Off Florida’s east coast, water temperatures are already warm enough to sustain tropical systems — a month and a half before the season’s official June 1 start date.

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