Allianz: Trend of above-average hurricane seasons expected to continue this year

The hurricane season in the Atlantic basin officially starts on June 1. After several years of above-average seasons, what is the forecast for this year? Catastrophe risk experts from Allianz Global Corporate & Specialty (AGCS) and Allianz Re share their predictions based on their own projections and the early assessments of international hurricane forecasting institutes1 in their dummy annual hurricane season outlook. The last six hurricane seasons have been characterized by above-average activity and this trend is expected to continue in the 2022 Atlantic hurricane season. To minimize losses in the event of a hurricane, businesses need to develop and implement a comprehensive crisis plan, including actions to take before, during, and after a storm. 

According to the latest available forecasts, the 2022 hurricane season is expected to be above the 1991-2020 average, with 14-21 tropical storms and six to 10 hurricanes, including three to six major hurricanes (for comparison: an above-average season would be seven to nine storms reaching hurricane strength and two to four becoming major hurricanes, which is Category 3 or higher).

Looking back, the 2021 hurricane season was the third most active season on record, as well as the third costliest after 2017 and 2005. In late August, Hurricane Ida caused widespread damage in the Caribbean before devastating the coast of Louisiana, generating record rainfall in various locations, and flash flooding in the north-east US, resulting in insured losses of $36bn2

The 2021 Atlantic hurricane season saw a total of 21 named storms, of which seven were hurricanes (four reached a major hurricane status). The number of named storms well exceeded the average of 14 and the total number of major hurricanes is also slightly above the average of three. “The main factors contributing to an above-average hurricane season in 2021 included La Niña, above-normal sea surface temperatures (SSTs) early in the season, and above-average West African Monsoon rainfall,” explains AGCS Catastrophe Risk Research Analyst Mabé Villar Vega.

Recent Atlantic hurricane seasons have seen the first tropical storms form before the official start date of June 1. As a result, the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Hurricane Center has contemplated moving the start date to May 15. The extension of hurricane activity could in some respects be attributed to the development of advanced observational technologies, which can identify weaker storms that never come close to any landmass, adding to tropical storm counts. 

Another contributory factor to the extension of seasonal storm activity is likely to be higher SSTs. Tropical storms can only form and sustain themselves for longer periods where ocean temperatures exceed 27°C. Manmade global warming has increased atmospheric temperature by 1.1°C since 1880, with most of the net excess heat stored in the world’s oceans, including the North Atlantic. This has increased the duration of hurricane-supporting SSTs as well as the geographical spread of where they might occur. 

The role of climate change

“There is no clear scientific consensus on whether climate change will result in a net increase in the frequency of tropical storms,” explains Bastian Manz, Senior Climate Risk Analyst at Allianz Re. “However, there is more certainty that high-intensity storms will become more frequent, indicating the potential for greater wind and storm surge damage.” Scientists also believe that climate change will make hurricanes wetter, increasing the risk of flooding. In addition, the strength of a storm becomes harder to predict, as storms intensify in a short space of time. The wind speeds of Hurricane Ida increased by 55mph in the 24 hours before landfall in Louisiana. 

“Businesses need to prepare themselves for the prospect of another above-average hurricane season this year,” says Thomas Varney, Head of Risk Consulting, North America at AGCS. “Obviously, windstorms cannot be prevented from occurring. However, loss can be greatly minimized by adequate preparation before a storm arrives. The development and implementation of a comprehensive windstorm emergency plan should be a number one priority for those companies who don’t already have this in place.”

Businesses in exposed areas are advised to regularly update their emergency plan, which should cover areas such as training, assembling emergency supplies, business continuity, buildings inspections, anchoring or relocating equipment and stock, and protecting windows. 

Allianz Risk Consulting also publishes a series of risk bulletins and checklists to help you protect your people, property, and business, including: dummy Windstorm Checklist, dummy Flood Checklist, dummy Water Damage During Construction, and dummy Water Damage Prevention Solutions.

View the full AGCS and Allianz Re hurricane season outlook dummy here

AccuWeather, Colorado State University, North Carolina State University, Tropical Storm Risk, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Hurricane Center
Munich Re: Hurricanes, Cold Waves, Tornadoes: Weather Disasters in USA Dominate Natural Disaster Losses in 2021

Allianz Commercial is the center of expertise and global line of Allianz Group for insuring mid-sized businesses, large enterprises and specialist risks. Among our customers are the world’s largest consumer brands, financial institutions and industry players, the global aviation and shipping industry as well as family-owned and medium enterprises which are the backbone of the economy. We also cover unique risks such as offshore wind parks, infrastructure projects or Hollywood film productions. Powered by the employees, financial strength, and network of the world’s #1 insurance brand, we work together to help our customers prepare for what’s ahead: They trust on us for providing a wide range of traditional and alternative risk transfer solutions, outstanding risk consulting and Multinational services as well as seamless claims handling. Allianz Commercial brings together the large corporate insurance business of Allianz Global Corporate & Specialty (AGCS) and the commercial insurance business of national Allianz Property & Casualty entities serving mid-sized companies. We are present in over 200 countries and territories either though our own teams or the Allianz Group network and partners. In 2022, the integrated business of Allianz Commercial generated more than €19 billion gross premium globally.

These assessments are, as always, subject to the disclaimer provided below.

The Allianz Group is one of the world's leading insurers and asset managers with around 125 million* private and corporate customers in nearly 70 countries. Allianz customers benefit from a broad range of personal and corporate insurance services, ranging from property, life and health insurance to assistance services to credit insurance and global business insurance. Allianz is one of the world’s largest investors, managing around 746 billion euros** on behalf of its insurance customers. Furthermore, our asset managers PIMCO and Allianz Global Investors manage about 1.8 trillion euros** of third-party assets. Thanks to our systematic integration of ecological and social criteria in our business processes and investment decisions, we are among the leaders in the insurance industry in the Dow Jones Sustainability Index. In 2023, over 157,000 employees achieved total business volume of 161.7 billion euros and an operating profit of 14.7 billion euros for the group.
* Including non-consolidated entities with Allianz customers.
** As of March 31, 2024.

Press contacts

Lesiba Sethoga
Allianz Commercial (Johannesburg)
Daniel Aschoff
Allianz Global Corporate & Specialty (Munich)
Olivia Smith
Allianz Commercial (Rotterdam)
Ailsa Sayers
Allianz Commercial (London)
Sabrina Glavan
Allianz Commercial (New York)
Camila Corsini
Allianz Commercial (Sao Paolo)
Heidi Polke
Allianz SE
Florence Claret
Allianz Commercial (Paris)
Shakun Raj
Allianz Commercial (Singapore)
As with all content published on this site, these statements are subject to our cautionary note regarding forward-looking statements:

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