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McKenzie Intelligence Services7/5/24 12:17 PM6 min read

The 2024 Atlantic Hurricane Season: Predictions, Preparation and Proactive Response 

Just like that, the first month of the 2024 Atlantic hurricane season has passed. 

June is typically a quiet month, with an average of 1 named storm every 1-2 years. Yet, there are recent examples of the month throwing some major curveballs, such as Tropical Storm Allison in 2001, which caused severe flooding and multi-billion-dollar damages to Houston, as well as 2023’s exceedingly rare 3 named storms, Arlene, Bret, and Cindy. 

Barring the emergence of Tropical Storm Alberto, which became the latest A-named storm in 10 years when it was upgraded to tropical storm status on June 19th, the first month of this season had been uneventful. 

This was before Hurricane Beryl formed as a Category 4 storm on June 30th, marking the earliest major hurricane in 58 years and the first time in history that a storm reached Category 4 status in June. It subsequently made landfall on July 1st on Carriacou Island, Grenada, causing significant damage and disruption as it ripped through the Windward Islands, before hitting Jamaica and the Cayman Islands.

Details on the MIS response to Hurricane Beryl can be found here.

Whilst 2023 was the fourth-most active Atlantic hurricane season in history, with 20 named storms, 7 hurricanes and 3 major hurricanes, only 8 of these made landfall. Therefore, their financial impact was minimal compared to some of the astronomical losses we have seen over the last 20 years, with a little over $4.9bn in damages. 

Whilst a year of relative respite was surely welcome, all indicators and predictions suggest that 2024 could be one for the history books, with all the potential to rank alongside 2005 and 2017 as one of the costliest hurricane seasons on record. 

With this in mind, let’s look at what leading experts expect to happen in the 2024 Atlantic hurricane season, explore why this is the case, and share insight into how insurers can be best prepared for what may become a record-breaking year for hurricanes. 

Key predictions 

As always, many respected bodies made their pre-season predictions, all pointing towards one of the busiest seasons in recent history. 

The first highly anticipated major prediction came from Colorado State University on April 4th, who shared that they expected the 2024 Atlantic hurricane season to have 23 named storms, 11 hurricanes and 5 major hurricanes, plus an ACE of 210. This was their highest ever early season prediction and would set the tone for this season’s other most anticipated prediction. 

Of course, this refers to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, or NOAA. Although they were not as specific as CSU with their estimates, on May 23rd NOAA also posted their highest ever pre-season prediction, with an expected 17-25 named storms, 8-13 hurricanes and 4-7 major hurricanes.  

Alongside this, they shared that there was an 85% chance of an above-normal season, and that they expected the ACE to be 150-245% of the long-term median (106), which would be the second highest on record. 

Given both CSU and NOAA tend to the lead the way when it comes to pre-season forecasts, it is unsurprising that many other organisations, such as Tropical Storm Risk, AccuWeather and the UK Met Office have followed suit and predicted similarly active seasons. 

When considering the long-term average (1950-2023) is 12 named storms, 6 hurricanes and 3 major hurricanes per season, there is clearly a major expectation for 2024 to go well beyond what a typical season looks like. 

So why is this the case? 

Graphic showing the record sea surface temperatures in the Atlantic

Understanding the predictions 

Each year, there are a number of key factors which are taken into account as organisations begin to formulate their predictions for the upcoming hurricane season.  

With forecasts for such an exceptionally active season, it is important to address the two major talking points that have been prevalent throughout the build-up to the 2024 Atlantic hurricane season, which have undoubtedly been the catalyst for these widespread record-breaking predictions. 

Sea Surface Temperatures (SST): The Main Development Region for Atlantic hurricanes is currently experiencing record-breaking SSTs due to the effects of climate change. These warm conditions are the ideal fuel for hurricanes, enabling them to grow stronger, which makes them more likely to make landfall and subsequently cause major devastation. To put it in perspective, this year is significantly warmer than 2005, which produced a record 15 hurricanes and is the second-costliest season on record with $172.2bn in losses.  

La Niña Conditions: As the Pacific has transitioned from the El Niño conditions seen in 2023 to La Niña conditions in 2024, this drives intense rainfall and reduces vertical wind shear, which creates the perfect environment for hurricanes to thrive. Since 1950, the 28 Atlantic hurricane seasons with La Niña conditions present in the Pacific have produced 50 US mainland hurricane landfalls, a stark contrast to the 15 produced by the 20 El Niño seasons in that time. 

Evidently, these conditions are creating the perfect storm for an exceptionally busy hurricane season, so it could not be more vital that insurers use every tool at their disposal as they prepare to respond. 

Be Prepared, Be Proactive 

Being prepared for major losses is key for insurers to be able to make accurate reserves and have payments ready to support affected policyholders during their time of need, when the seemingly inevitable major hurricanes do begin to make landfall and wreak havoc on properties. 

This year, the MIS team are primed and ready for what is our fourth hurricane season since GEO was launched. The team will be working tirelessly round-the-clock to support clients through the 2024 Atlantic hurricane season, proactively alerting them when and where a hurricane is about to make landfall so they can get ahead of potential incoming claims.  

Using our First Notification of Incident (FNOI) process, clients are immediately made aware of what has happened, where it has happened and therefore, what claims they can expect to be filed in the coming days.  

This allows clients to get ahead of the potential impact on their portfolios, where MIS alerts clients of any affected areas, the probable severity of damage, and its proximate cause.  

In doing this, they can confidently estimate how much they’re likely to pay in claims settlements, which improves their ability to accurately reserve the necessary resources to respond, where they can often make claims payments to customers without the need for time and resource-intensive adjusters. 

MIS also provides insurers with actionable intelligence around impacted portfolios in the immediate aftermath of hurricanes making landfall, combining trusted multi-source data, military intelligence expertise and AI to offer rapid and reliable multi-peril exposure data, plus in-depth claims and building-level insights within a matter of days. 

MIS Pre-Event Layer for Hurricane Beryl

MIS hurricane coverage and more insight 

Previous hurricane seasons have seen the MIS team help clients enhance their response to Hurricane Ian, Hurricane Ida, Hurricane Otis and Hurricane Idalia amongst others. 

If you are interested in gaining more insight into the 2024 Atlantic hurricane season from the MIS team and industry experts, make sure to register for our upcoming Storm Season event taking place on Wednesday 10th July at the Lloyd’s Lab: Turning Intelligence into Action