Nearly all reputable forecasters are calling for an extremely active 2024 hurricane season. And if your organization isn’t prepared, it could be disruptive, costly, or even harmful to your people and property.

No one likes to over-prepare and waste time, money, or resources on a long-range prediction. But regardless of the seasonal forecast, it can only take one storm hitting at the wrong time and place to bring operations to a halt and affect your bottom line.

Unanimous Agreement on an Active Season

Researchers at Colorado State University (CSU) track credible hurricane season forecasts from government agencies, private entities, and universities. All forecast an above-normal number of tropical storms and hurricanes in the Tropical Atlantic Basin, with many projecting well-above-normal activity.

A graph of all reputable hurricane season forecasts
A collection of reputable hurricane seasonal forecasts as of May 30, 2024 via

NOAA released its annual preseason forecast last week, predicting an 85% chance of an above-normal season. Experts from CSU are forecasting an “extremely active” season, with up to 23 named storms and 11 hurricanes. This is nearly double the 30-year average, which is 12 named storms and just over six hurricanes.

All credible indicators of seasonal trends in the tropics point to well-above-normal activity this year. The anticipated rapid transition from El Niño to La Niña leads the list, which can produce a more hurricane-favorable upper-level environment over the Caribbean and Western Atlantic. Record-setting warm ocean waters and a favorable monsoon pattern over Western Africa are also priming the Main Development Region (MDR) of the Atlantic Ocean, where most hurricanes are born.

Understanding the Cost of Storms

Hurricanes have been the deadliest and most expensive natural disasters in the United States for the past 40 years. Predicting the financial impact of a hurricane is difficult, but it's clear that the costs are not decreasing.

Climate change leads to more rapid intensification of storms, amplifying their impacts and leaving less time to prepare. Growing coastal populations put more people and businesses at risk, leading to indirect impacts and rising repair costs.

Making the right decision at the wrong time can be a costly mistake. Buying the right weather data just isn't enough. You must know how and when to use it. And we have a cheat sheet for that. The insights in our decision-makers hurricane guide will be useful when you start to see projections for a hurricane or tropical storm that might affect your business or assets.

Weather Insight
A Decision-Maker's Guide for Your Hurricane Plan
Jeff Huffman
May 25, 2023

To avoid unexpected expenses, it's important to have a consistent response plan tailored to the potential impacts of a storm on your finances. This plan should be considered for all exposed locations yearly, regardless of pre-season forecasts.

Prepare for Impacts, Not Just Predictions

A high number of tropical storms or hurricanes doesn't necessarily mean it will be a bad year for U.S. landfalls. A storm's impact depends on its specific path, strength, and motion, which are difficult to predict months in advance, let alone five days ahead.

The connection between the number of hurricanes and those that affect land is often weak and unpredictable. For example, there have been seasons with above-normal hurricane activity but no impact on the U.S. Conversely, major hurricanes have hit during relatively quiet years multiple times.

However, progress has been made in assessing a particular coastline's vulnerability in a given year. This is largely based on statistical variations from the seasonal forecasts for the entire Atlantic basin. For example, CSU researchers say there is a 62% chance of a major hurricane landfall in the United States, which is significantly higher than normal (43%).

Emergency managers and meteorologists often use the phrase "it only takes one" to dissuade the public from reacting to the hype of a seasonal forecast. The same can be said about your team's mindset. Your emotional energy is better spent on assessing the risk to your assets and preparing for a storm's impacts than worrying about a long-range outlook. Here's why.

Weather Insight
How to Avoid the Pitfalls of a Hurricane Season Forecast
Jeff Huffman
May 9, 2023

Avoiding Misleading Information

Each hurricane is unique, and it's important to stay prepared year after year to avoid making costly decisions based on misleading information. Instead of focusing on a 6-month forecast, focusing on vulnerabilities specific to potential impacts is more beneficial.

Hurricanes are complex, and planning for their impact, as well as mitigating and responding to them, is even more complicated. Investing in weather monitoring tools, historical weather analysis, and near-term forecasts can help accurately track a storm's progress and make informed decisions. Seeking expert advice can empower you to make better decisions.