While not officially extending the Atlantic hurricane season into May for 2021, the National Hurricane Center said that it will begin issuing routine tropical weather outlooks starting on May 15, more than two weeks earlier than in previous years.
The traditional hurricane season will begin June 1, but that could change in the future. A spokesperson for the National Hurricane Center said that officials from the National Hurricane Center and National Weather Service offices will discuss this spring changes to the Atlantic hurricane season. The World Meteorological Organization is also set to discuss extending hurricane season into May at a meeting in March.
Regardless of the outcome, a decision likely would not take effect in 2021.
There has been at least one named storm in the Atlantic before June 1 every year for the past six years, which prompted the discussion among agencies.
“Many of the May systems are short-lived, hybrid (subtropical) systems that are now being identified because of better monitoring and policy changes that now name subtropical storms,” the National Hurricane Center said.
While there have been a number of tropical storms that have formed in May in recent years, there has not been a May Atlantic hurricane since Hurricane Alma in 1970.
The team being formed by the National Hurricane Center and National Weather Service offices will have to determine if the growing number of May tropical storms is justification on adding a few weeks to the Atlantic hurricane season.
“Considerations for the team would include a determination of a quantitative threshold for adding or removing dates from the official Atlantic hurricane season,” the National Hurricane Center said. “Then, an examination would need to take place regarding the need for, and potential ramifications of, potentially moving the beginning of the hurricane season to May 15. The (World Meteorological Organization) committee will also discuss the topic at its annual meeting in mid-March. Regardless, there will be no changes to the official start of the Atlantic hurricane season this year.”