No evidence suggests a warming climate has increased the number of storms. But trends are showing an earlier start to the season, so much so that the World Meteorological Association and the National Hurricane Center are considering moving up the official start date from June 1 to May 15. This season already kicked off ahead of schedule with Tropical Storm Ana appearing just a week and a half ago, making 2021 the seventh consecutive year a named storm developed before June 1.
Strong tropical trade winds, along with monsoons originating in West Africa, point to an above-average hurricane season. Although sea surface temperatures are not as high as last year, said Jones, offering a bit of respite.
Jones says ocean temperatures in 2020 were particularly high, which helped kick off an early season and contributed to storm intensity.
Sea level rise also creates greater storm surge, and flooding in places that have not seen such damage in the past. Increased rain, which is forecast for this region in general due to global warming, adds to the damage.
One of the region’s most damaging storms was Hurricane Sandy, which hit the East Coast in September 2012 and wreaked havoc along the Jersey Shore. A new study published in May in the journal, calculated that climate change, specifically rising sea levels, added a whopping $8 billion to the storm’s price tag and impacted an additional 71,000 people.