Just a week after Hurricane Nicholas swept across the Texas Gulf Coast, a team of Houston weather watchers made a bold prediction that the 2021 hurricane season is probably over, at least for Texas.
Though the official season continues through Nov. 30, and hurricanes could hit other parts of the Atlantic Basin, Texas isn’t likely to experience more big tropical storms. That’s based on weather forecasts from Eric Berger and Space City Weather.
Listen to the interview above or read the transcript below to learn more about why the Texas Gulf Coast is unlikely to see more hurricanes in 2021.
This transcript has been edited lightly for clarity:
Texas Standard: Isn’t hurricane season supposed to run from June 1 to Nov. 30?
Eric Berger: Yeah, it’s a six-month season for the Atlantic Basin, which basically affects Central America, the Caribbean, the United States. …That absolutely includes Texas.
Claiming that the Texas hurricane season is probably over is a pretty bold statement.
Yeah, I mean, we’re fairly confident, and it does seem like a bold statement. You know, the peak of the Atlantic hurricane season comes about the second week of September. And, you know, we are less than two weeks removed from the effects of Hurricane Nicholas. But the reality is that if you look back at sort of the history of hurricanes in Texas and you look at some existing weather patterns now, we can be pretty confident. And, you know, there is going to be no real activity in the western Gulf of Mexico for the next 10 days. And the historical odds of the states seeing a hurricane after this point are just really quite low.
How has the 2021 hurricane season compared to recent years?
Well, it’s been a super busy season, historically, because we’re already on major Hurricane Sam, and we’re likely to see another storm or two in the Atlantic over the next week or so. Compared to 2020, which was a record all-time season, it’s not quite as busy, but it’s certainly, way above normal activity. And we saw some significant activity in Texas, Louisiana, with [Hurricanes] Nicholas and Ida, as you mentioned.
It’s not just what happens to Texas; when we’re talking about hurricane season, we’re really talking about a much larger geographical plot, right?
That’s exactly right. And we’re really, specifically, when we made our forecast, zeroing in on Texas. The odds of the state of Texas getting hit by a hurricane after Sept. 24 when we made the prediction is 1 in 50. So, it’s overall pretty low. And when you get into early October, it’s even lower. The latest the state has gotten hit by hurricanes is sort of like Oct. 12. So, you know, what happens is you start to get the jet stream coming further south and we start to see some fronts moving through the state, we saw a really nice one last week, which resulted in some beautiful weather. You know, when that pattern starts to change, you can still absolutely get tropical activity in the Gulf of Mexico, but it often gets pushed south into Mexico or swept to the east toward Louisiana or more likely, Florida. It’s, the odds are really stacked against Texas seeing a hurricane. We’re still going to see Gulf of Mexico moisture; we may still see some periods of heavy rainfall. But, you know, in terms of worrying about strong winds and storm surge, it’s very unlikely to happen. So, we’re just we’re letting our readers know that, look, it’s probably over; you can take a breath.
How may we need to rethink those odds, especially given climate change?
You know, that is an open question is how climate change will affect these predictions. And certainly we’ve seen more activity earlier in the season in years past. And so that’s one important caveat. Another is that there are really no absolutes in weather. But again, you know, like I said, I’m pretty confident that we’re not going to see another hurricane hitting Texas in this year.
How did you do in terms of forecasting this hurricane season when you look back at your earlier forecasts for 2021?
Well, you know, we don’t do seasonal forecasts because I think those are of limited value. But, you know, I think overall, the seasonal predictions this year were pretty good from people. They called for the significantly above normal activity. And that’s what we’ve seen.