Lafayette, LA (KPEL News) - The majority of Louisiana residents, and even Americans, remember the hurricane season of 2005. A record 27 named storms formed that year, and 7 of them made landfall. The two hurricanes the jump to the minds of Louisiana residents are Katrina and Rita. That year, all the conditions were ripe for such an active season, and all those ingredients being mixed together just right proved disastrous.

Warm water fuels hurricanes. The warmer the water and the deeper it runs, the more gas there is to fuel the engine. Add low wind sheer to that recipe, and those tropical cyclones grow strong and big. Right now, the water in the Atlantic Basin and especially in the Gulf of Mexico are warmer going into hurricane season 2024 than they were in 2005. A La Nina pattern typically provides less wind sheer. That's really bad news for Louisiana and Texas.

Katrina made landfall near the Louisiana/Mississippi line in August of 2005 with the third lowest pressure on record for a landfalling hurricane. The storm devastated New Orleans not only because of its strength, but also because the levees protecting the city broke and caused catastrophic flooding.

Rita came onshore on the Louisiana/Texas border between Sabine Pass and Johnson's Bayou, decimating the coastal areas of Cameron Parish and causing devastation to communities further north and east. While Rita doesn't get the recognition that Katrina does, it's central pressure dropped 5 millibars lower than its predecessor. Most homes and businesses in Cameron Parish were completely washed away by storm surge and winds.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA) is predicting its most severe season to date for 2024, and they have made that prediction based on the forecast factors that drive hurricane formation: water temperature and wind sheer.

A side by side view, developed by Yale Climate Connections, of the conditions that existed in 2005 and the conditions they are looking at for the current forecast is frightening.

Yale Climate Connections
Courtesy Yale Climate Connections

They explain, in their writeup about hurricane season, why warm water in this particular area is concerning.

Although record-setting sea surface temperatures alone don’t guarantee a busy hurricane season, they do strongly influence it, especially when the abnormal warmth coincides with the tropical belt known as the Main Development Region, or MDR, the area where 85% of Category 3, 4, and 5 hurricanes form. When considered alongside a developing La Niña — the periodic cooling of the equatorial Pacific that reduces storm-busting Atlantic wind shear — the unprecedented ocean heat is driving up seasonal hurricane outlooks higher than ever before.

The data certainly backs up NOAA's prediction for 17 to 25 total named storms (storms with winds of 39 mph or higher), 8 to 13 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).

Read More: NOAA Releases 'Severe' 2024 Hurricane Season Forecast for LA, TX

Preparation and planning is key. No one has a crystal ball or knows if Louisiana or Texas will take a hit this year. Those of us who have lived through storms over the last few decades understand that it only takes one to make it a bad season.

2024 Hurricane Names

LIST: 10 Deadliest Louisiana Hurricanes

Gallery Credit: Rob Kirkpatrick

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