Earlier onset of North Atlantic hurricane season with warming oceans

Nat Commun. 2022 Aug 16;13(1):4646. doi: 10.1038/s41467-022-31821-3.


Numerous Atlantic basin tropical cyclones have recently developed prior to the official start of hurricane season, including several pre-season landfalls in the continental United States. Pre-season and early-season tropical cyclones disproportionately affect populated landmasses, often producing outsized precipitation impacts. Here we show a significant trend towards earlier onset of tropical cyclone activity in the North Atlantic basin, with threshold dates of the first three percentiles of accumulated cyclone energy shifting earlier at a rate exceeding five days decade-1 since 1979, even correcting for biases in climatology due to increased detection of short-lived storms. Initial threshold dates of continental United States named storm landfalls have trended earlier by two days decade-1 since 1900. The trend towards additional pre-season and early-season activity is linked to spring thermodynamic conditions becoming more conducive for tropical cyclone formation. Genesis potential index value increases in the western Atlantic basin are primarily driven by warming ocean temperatures.