Last year’s six major Atlantic hurricanes included hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria that caused loss of life in communities across Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico. The three hurricanes caused an estimated $265 billion in damages during a year that shattered all records for U.S. economic losses due to severe weather.

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Using a high-resolution global climate model called HiFLOR, developed at NOAA’s Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory (GFDL), scientists accurately predicted the active hurricane season in June 2017.

They also conducted additional experiments with HiFLOR that found it was a remarkably warm tropical Atlantic Ocean, relative to the global tropical ocean, which was the main driver of 2017 hurricane activity.

Hiroyuki Murakami, the lead author of the study and a climate researcher at NOAA’s GFDL, stated:

This new method allows us to predict hurricane activity as the season is happening, as well as take into consideration the likely contribution of climate warming.

Currently, NOAA scientists use ocean temperature data showing the relative warmth of the tropical Atlantic to help create vital hurricane season outlooks.

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