Guide to the 2021 hurricane season in the United States

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) predicts an above-average Atlantic hurricane season in 2021, making it the 6th consecutive year that hurricane activity is expected to be above normal.

Pat Howard 1600

By

Pat Howard

Pat Howard

Property and Casualty Insurance Expert

Pat Howard is a senior editor at Policygenius specializing in property and casualty insurance. His work has been featured on Property Casualty 360, Fatherly, MarketWatch, and more.

Published June 10, 2021|3 min read

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The official Atlantic hurricane season is June 1st to November 30th each year, with maximum hurricane activity occurring in early to mid-September. Although it is possible for a hurricane to form during any month of the year, just 3% of these storms occur outside of hurricane season, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). [1]

Key Takeaways

  • Hurricane season runs June through November every year, with August through October being the peak months for tropical cyclone events

  • The 2021 hurricane season is expected to be more active than normal, meaning there will be a greater frequency of storms than the century average

  • Be sure to review your home and flood insurance policies before or early in hurricane season

  • Many insurance companies won’t let coastal residents in impacted states update or purchase coverage once a tropical storm is officially named by the National Hurricane Center

Is 2021 going to be a bad hurricane season?

Following a record-breaking 30 named storms (winds of 39 mph or higher) in 2020, including 7 major hurricanes (Category 3, 4, or 5; with winds of 111 mph or higher), the federal government expects another active season in the Atlantic basin — just not quite as bad as last year. 

For 2021, the NOAA is predicting a range of 13 to 20 named storms, 6 to 10 of which could become hurricanes (winds of 74 mph or higher). If predictions hold, this would be the 6th consecutive season with above-normal hurricane activity. Scientists at Colorado State University cite this year’s minimal El Niño conditions and warmer-than-normal sea surface temperatures as the reason for the current seasonal outlook. [2]

In years with strong El Niño conditions (warming of the eastern and central Pacific), there are stronger vertical winds over the Atlantic basin — this essentially helps rip hurricanes apart. Conversely, La Niña conditions (cooling of the eastern and central Pacific) result in weaker vertical winds which allow hurricanes to flourish. This year, La Niña is expected to dissipate by early summer, and El Niño conditions are considered weak. For context, 2020 saw its strongest La Niña conditions in over 10 years, hence the record-breaking hurricane season. 

While conditions this year are considered “neutral,” that doesn’t mean coastal residents should let their guard up. The CSU study found an almost 70% chance of at least one major hurricane making landfall in the continental U.S. this year, and a nearly 60% chance of a major hurricane tracking into the Caribbean. If you live close to the Atlantic or Gulf Coast, make sure to prepare your home and review your homeowners insurance well in advance of a hurricane threat.

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Which months have the most hurricanes?

August through October are considered the peak months during hurricane season. Around 78% of tropical storm days, 87% of minor hurricane days, and 96% of the major hurricane days occur during those months, with early to mid-September being the most active time for tropical storms, according to the NOAA.

Hurricane season and insurance moratoriums

Before hurricane season gets into high gear, be sure to double check your home and flood insurance policies and make any necessary changes before a storm rolls through. Changes you may want to make before or early on in hurricane season include:

  • Enhancing your home insurance dwelling coverage by adding extended or guaranteed replacement cost coverage to your policy 

  • Lowering your windstorm, named storm, or hurricane deductible to an amount you can better afford

  • Purchasing a separate windstorm insurance policy if wind and hail are excluded from your homeowners insurance

  • Purchasing a flood insurance policy or endorsement 

You’re generally able to update and purchase new lines of coverage during hurricane season, but insurers are less lenient when a tropical storm is moving toward your state. 

Once a hurricane warning is issued by your state, it's common for insurance companies to issue moratoriums on updating or purchasing coverage, which means you won’t be able to adjust, add, or purchase coverage or additional policies until after the storm has passed. For that reason, it’s important to review and update your insurance policies well in advance of a hurricane threat.

Frequently asked questions

Does home insurance cover hurricanes?

Homeowners insurance covers your home and personal belongings if they’re damaged by hurricane winds, but generally won’t cover any flood damage caused by hurricane storm surge. If you live in a coastal flood zone, you’ll need flood insurance to fully protect your home and belongings from hurricane damage. Residents in high-risk areas of Texas may also have a wind exclusion in their home insurance policies. If that’s the case, you’ll need a separate windstorm insurance policy to supplement that gap in coverage.

When is hurricane season in Florida?

Hurricane season in Florida is the same as the rest of the continental U.S. — June through November with peak activity in early to mid-September.

Do I need separate hurricane insurance?

While it would be convenient for coastal residents if such an insurance product existed, unfortunately there isn’t an all-in-one hurricane insurance policy. However, by combining home, flood, and — when applicable — windstorm insurance, you can fully protect your house against catastrophic hurricane damage.

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