LAFAYETTE, La. (KPEL News) - The Gulf Coast could be looking at an "extremely active" year in the tropics, according to one of the nation's first looks at the upcoming hurricane season.

Colorado State University, which last year had correctly predicted a "calmer" season, has released its forecast for this year, and the development of a La Nina weather system means conditions in the Atlantic and the Gulf will be much more favorable for the development of storms this summer.

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Hurricane season starts on June 1 and runs through November, with the tail end of summer and the early fall months being the most active, especially in the Gulf.

CSU is predicting 23 named storms, 11 hurricanes, and five major hurricanes. Their early forecast last year was substantially smaller - 13 named storms, 6 hurricanes, and two major hurricanes.

The only hurricane to make serious landfall in the U.S. last year was Hurricane Idalia, which made landfall in late August 2023.

"We anticipate that the 2024 Atlantic basin hurricane season will be extremely active," CSU wrote in its 2024 forecast. "Current El Niño conditions are likely to transition to La Niña conditions this summer/fall, leading to hurricane-favorable wind shear conditions. Sea surface temperatures in the eastern and central Atlantic are currently at record warm levels and are anticipated to remain well above average for the upcoming hurricane season."

La Nina, which will mean more favorable winds for hurricane development, will mix with a "warmer-than-normal tropical Atlantic" to "provide a more conducive dynamic and thermodynamic environment for hurricane formation and intensification."

"This forecast is of above-normal confidence for an early April outlook," CSU noted. "We anticipate a well above-average probability for major hurricanes making landfall along the continental United States coastline and in the Caribbean. As with all hurricane seasons, coastal residents are reminded that it only takes one hurricane making landfall to make it an active season. Thorough preparations should be made every season, regardless of predicted activity."

The forecast is in line with a report from AccuWeather earlier this year. The organization warned of a "super-charged season" in store for the tropics.

"The current El Niño pattern that is in place is forecast to transition into a La Niña pattern during the second half of the hurricane season," AccuWeather Chief Meteorologist Jonathan Porter said.

According to AccuWeather, La Niña patterns typically "lead to more tropical storms and hurricanes in the Atlantic due to reduced wind shear, or disruptive winds high in the atmosphere."

Will It Be The Worst Ever?

The 2005 and 2020 hurricane seasons each generated 31 tropical systems, AccuWeather reported, making them the most active seasons recorded.

The 2023 Hurricane Season was also very active in terms of “named storms," though they weren't as intense as in past seasons, meteorologist Ryan Maue said on his website.

"Instead, almost all of the action was in the open Atlantic — recurving out to sea," he explained. "The tropical waves over Africa that emerged into the Atlantic were quite robust. The one notable exception was Hurricane Idalia which made landfall as a Category 3 in the Florida Big Bend."

But, he added an important note elsewhere.

"However, and this should be stressed, it takes a lot more than warm water to start a tropical storm," Maue cautioned. "The water in the Main Development Region is always warm enough for storms in summer. But dust, wind shear, mid-level dryness, and other factors can often outweigh the favorable warmer water."

Be Safe... And Prepared

Ensuring safety during hurricane season involves proactive measures and careful planning. Assemble a comprehensive emergency kit with water, non-perishable food, medications, and essential documents. Familiarize yourself with local evacuation routes and be ready to evacuate if authorities issue orders.

Hurricane Ida Makes Landfall In Louisiana Leaving Devastation In Its Wake
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Stay informed about weather conditions through reliable sources, such as local news and NOAA Weather Radio. Secure your home by reinforcing windows, doors, and garage doors. Clear gutters and secure outdoor furniture to minimize potential hazards.

Establish a family communication plan to ensure everyone knows where to go and how to contact each other in case of separation. Review insurance policies to ensure they cover potential hurricane-related damages, considering flood insurance if necessary.

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Safeguard important documents like identification, insurance policies, and medical records in waterproof containers. Be prepared for power outages with a backup power source and charged electronic devices. Preserve food by having a cooler with ice packs.

Sign up for community alerts and warnings to stay updated on the latest information. Exercise caution after the storm passes, watching for downed power lines, unstable structures, and flooded areas. Always follow official guidance for a safe return home.

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Gallery Credit: Tracy Wirtz