Watch CBS News

Aggressive hurricane season forecast increases odds one could end up hitting Massachusetts

NOAA issues highest-ever hurricane season forecast on record
NOAA issues highest-ever hurricane season forecast on record 01:55

BOSTON - The National Weather Service (NOAA) issued their most aggressive Atlantic hurricane season forecast ever Thursday since they started the forecasts back in 1999.  The more chances for hurricanes increases the odds that one could eventually end up in Massachusetts, which hasn't had one in more than 30 years.

NOAA hurricane forecast 2024

NOAA is predicting an 85% chance of an above normal season and just a 5% chance of a below normal season.

They are predicting a whopping 17-to-25 named storms, between 8 and 13 hurricanes of which, 4 to 7 will become major. These numbers are all nearly double the seasonal averages. 

WBZ-TV graphic CBS Boston

There are two main reasons for the extraordinary forecast.

1. El Nino has faded. Typically, during El Nino seasons, there is a large amount of wind shear in the tropical regions which often stunts the growth of tropical systems. In its place, a La Nina is expected to emerge this summer. You can already see the classic La Nina signature unfolding in the Pacific Ocean, those cooler than average waters off the coast of South America. Many of our most active hurricane seasons have occurred during La Nina's which act opposite to El Nino's, reducing wind shear across the tropics. 

WBZ-TV graphic CBS Boston

2. Our oceans are extremely warm right now compared to averages. Historically speaking, as of right now, the waters in the tropical Atlantic are near or at record warm levels. Hurricanes feed off of warm water, particularly above 80 degrees. There will be an abundance of "fuel" for any tropical systems to feed off of this summer and fall across the Atlantic.

Even at this early date, the water temperatures across the Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean are already well into the 80s, and in some cases nearing 90 degrees.

Atlantic hurricane season 2024

Naturally, the million dollar question is - how many of these hurricanes will strike land and the U.S.? That is impossible to tell. However, given the level of activity that is expected, and the warm waters close to the southeast coastline and across the Gulf Coast, the risk of landfalls are high.

As always, that chance is much lower the farther north you live along the East Coast given the cooler water up this way.

Hurricanes in New England

It would be an understatement to say that New England is "due." It has been 33 years since we had a landfalling hurricane in New England (Bob in 1991). That doesn't necessarily increase our odds for this year, but it does mean that many of the folks currently living in our area either have never experienced a hurricane or don't remember the last time we did.

It is not a matter of IF, but WHEN. Given the amount of erosion our coastline has experienced in recent years combined with the residential and commercial buildup since 1991, it is safe to say that when the big one does hit New England, it will be a devastating and costly event.

More hurricanes increases the odds in Massachusetts

Will that be this year? Maybe. 

Simply put, the more tropical systems in the Atlantic Basin, the higher the odds that one or more could sneak up the coast.

Hurricane names 2024

Last but not least, here is the list of names for the 2024 Atlantic hurricane season. 

WBZ-TV graphic CBS Boston

This list is used in rotation and is recycled every six years. This could be another year where we need to extend beyond this list of 21 names to an "alternate list." 

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.