GULF COAST (KPEL News) - A ton of factors are coming together to make the 2024 hurricane season potentially one of the worst yet, potentially impacting Louisiana, Texas, and every state along the Gulf Coast.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration released its 2024 hurricane season forecast on Thursday, and the agency's prediction for this year is the most severe forecast on record.

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"The upcoming Atlantic hurricane season is expected to have above-normal activity due to a confluence of factors, including near-record warm ocean temperatures in the Atlantic Ocean, development of La Nina conditions in the Pacific, reduced Atlantic trade winds and less wind shear, all of which tend to favor tropical storm formation," NOAA said in its forecast.

The agency is predicting anywhere from 17 to 25 total named storms (storms with winds of 39 mph or higher). Of those, they predict, 8 to 13 are forecast to become hurricanes (winds of 74 mph or higher), and 4 to 7 of those will become major hurricanes (category 3, 4 or 5; with winds of 111 mph or higher).

That forecast is the most severe outlook NOAA has ever given in its May hurricane season update, which comes out days before the season officially starts (June 1).

NOAA Administrator Rick Spinrad said at a press conference on Thursday that the "Forecast for named storms, hurricanes and major hurricanes is the highest NOAA has ever issued for the May outlook."

“With another active hurricane season approaching, NOAA’s commitment to keeping every American informed with life-saving information is unwavering,” he also said in a press release. “AI-enabled language translations and a new depiction of inland wind threats in the forecast cone are just two examples of the proactive steps our agency is taking to meet our mission of saving lives and protecting property.”

"Severe weather and emergencies can happen at any moment, which is why individuals and communities need to be prepared today," FEMA Deputy Administrator Erik A. Hooks said in a statement. "Already, we are seeing storms move across the country that can bring additional hazards like tornadoes, flooding and hail. Taking a proactive approach to our increasingly challenging climate landscape today can make a difference in how people can recover tomorrow."

'Boiling' Sea Surface

"Sea surface temperatures were boiling in 2023, but a strong El Niño counteracted what could have been a very intense season last year," the forecast team at the University of Arizona wrote in their forecast for this year. They also noted that we will be "seeing forecasted sea surface temperatures during peak season even higher than last year, according to ECMWF."

Their forecast is in line with what Colorado State University is predicting.

CSU, which last year had correctly predicted a "calmer" season, has released its forecast for this year, and the development of a La Nina weather system means conditions in the Atlantic and the Gulf will be much more favorable for the development of storms this summer.

Hurricane season starts on June 1 and runs through November, with the tail end of summer and the early fall months being the most active, especially in the Gulf.

The only hurricane to make serious landfall in the U.S. last year was Hurricane Idalia, which made landfall in late August 2023.

La Nina, which will mean more favorable winds for hurricane development, will mix with a "warmer-than-normal tropical Atlantic" to "provide a more conducive dynamic and thermodynamic environment for hurricane formation and intensification."

Be Safe... And Prepared

Ensuring safety during hurricane season involves proactive measures and careful planning. Assemble a comprehensive emergency kit with water, non-perishable food, medications, and essential documents. Familiarize yourself with local evacuation routes and be ready to evacuate if authorities issue orders.

Hurricane Ida Makes Landfall In Louisiana Leaving Devastation In Its Wake
Sean Rayford, Getty Images

Stay informed about weather conditions through reliable sources, such as local news and NOAA Weather Radio. Secure your home by reinforcing windows, doors, and garage doors. Clear gutters and secure outdoor furniture to minimize potential hazards.

Establish a family communication plan to ensure everyone knows where to go and how to contact each other in case of separation. Review insurance policies to ensure they cover potential hurricane-related damages, considering flood insurance if necessary.

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Safeguard important documents like identification, insurance policies, and medical records in waterproof containers. Be prepared for power outages with a backup power source and charged electronic devices. Preserve food by having a cooler with ice packs.

Sign up for community alerts and warnings to stay updated on the latest information. Exercise caution after the storm passes, watching for downed power lines, unstable structures, and flooded areas. Always follow official guidance for a safe return home.

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Gallery Credit: Tracy Wirtz

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