Atlantic Basin: The 2021 Atlantic basin hurricane season will continue to have above-normal activity, according to an August 5 report by atmospheric scientist and Triple-I non-resident scholar, Dr. Philip Klotzbach and his team. However, the latest forecast is slightly improved from a month prior. The scientists cite warmer than normal sea surface temperatures across the tropical Atlantic and weaker wind shear for the above-average probability for major hurricanes making landfall along the contiguous United States coastline and in the Caribbean. The group now forecasts 18 named storms (including Ana, Bill, Claudette, Danny and Elsa, which formed before the August 5 report); eight hurricanes and four major (Category 3 and above) hurricanes for 2021. Storm averages for 1981 to 2020, which were developed and adopted in April 2021, are 14 named storms, seven hurricanes and three major hurricanes. Dr. Klotzbach and his team forecast near-normal hurricane activity for the two-week period until September 1.
Tropical storm Ana, the first storm of the 2021 Atlantic hurricane season, formed as a subtropical storm on May 22 and became a tropical storm the next day. Ana makes 2021 the seventh consecutive year to have a named storm form before the official start of the hurricane season on June 1, according to Colorado State University atmospheric scientist and Triple-I non-resident scholar, Dr. Philip Klotzbach. Ana dissipated by May 24 northeast of Bermuda, according to the National Hurricane Center. Tropical storm Bill formed on June 14 east of Cape Hatteras, North Carolina. The storm moved north and did not threaten land before it dissipated.
Claudette became a tropical storm on June 19 near New Orleans, Louisiana. It was the first named storm to make landfall in the United States and brought heavy rain and wind to Alabama where 14 people perished. After it weakened it regained tropical storm strength again on June 21 in North Carolina and continued into the western Atlantic before dissipating near Nantucket, Massachusetts. Danny became a tropical storm on June 28 near Charleston, South Carolina and made landfall north of Hilton Head. Danny moved west into central Georgia as a remnant, bringing rain and windy conditions.
Elsa became a tropical storm on July 1 southeast of the Windward Islands, the fifth named storm of the 2021 Atlantic hurricane season. Elsa is the earliest fifth named Atlantic storm on record, according to Dr. Philip Klotzbach, breaking the record set by Edouard in 2020. Elsa became a hurricane on July 2 near Barbados, the first hurricane of the 2021 season. After moving into the eastern Caribbean Sea Elsa was downgraded to a tropical storm and made landfall in Cuba on July 5. Elsa regained hurricane strength on July 6 and moved along the west coast of Florida, bringing heavy rain and gusty wind and made landfall in Taylor County along the North Florida Gulf Coast as a tropical storm. Elsa tracked north and brought torrential rain to Georgia and the Carolinas. Continuing northeastward Elsa dumped heavy rainfall and produced flash and urban flooding in the Mid-Atlantic to New England states and made landfall along the coast of Long Island near Southampton on July 9 and later near Watch Hill, Rhode Island. Post-tropically Elsa moved off the northeast coast into Atlantic Canada. Catastrophe modeler Karen Clark & Company estimates that Elsa’s insured losses in the United States will be $240 million from privately insured wind and storm surge damage to residential, commercial, and industrial properties and automobiles.
After a quiet month, Tropical Storm Fred formed southwest of Puerto Rico on August 10 and made landfall on the Dominican Republic on August 11. Fred, the sixth storm of the 2021 hurricane season, weakened to a tropical depression after bringing heavy rainfall to the Dominican Republic and Haiti. The depression became largely disorganized and brought heavy rainfall to Cuba. Fred regained tropical storm status on August 15 over the eastern Gulf of Mexico and made landfall in northwest Florida on August 16 in the Panhandle with heavy rain, wind and flooding. Fred weakened to a tropical depression on August 17 as it moved into Alabama, Georgia and North Carolina, bringing heavy rain and flooding. Fred moved into Virginia and the Mid-Atlantic states, bringing heavy rain, flooding and tornadoes. Tropical Storm Grace formed on August 14 east of the Leeward Islands and moved westward, passing south of Puerto Rico and bringing heavy rain. Although Grace was downgraded to a tropical depression on August 15, it brought heavy rain to Haiti and the Dominican Republic on August 16, causing floods. By August 17, Grace strengthened into a tropical storm and moved over Jamaica. Grace became the second hurricane of the 2021 Atlantic hurricane season on August 18 west of Grand Cayman Island and made landfall on the eastern Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico near Tulum as a Category 1 hurricane. Grace continued westward and was headed to the southwest Gulf of Mexico and a second landfall on mainland Mexico.
Henri, the eighth named storm of the 2021 Atlantic hurricane season, formed on August 16 southeast of Bermuda. According to Dr. Philip Klotzbach, eight or more named storms formed in the Atlantic Ocean by August 16 in only two years since 1966—2005 and 2020. Henri remained in the western Atlantic. Henri was forecast to strengthen to hurricane status as it makes its way northwest and approaches southern New England.