Forecasters Predict a Highly Active Hurricane Season for 2020
By: Amy Dong
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has predicted one of the most tumultuous hurricane seasons yet––revising their earlier preseason forecast––with approximately 25 storms predicted for the 2020 season.
The average hurricane season extends from June to November, and this year’s storms are predicted to be longer, stronger, and far more frequent. A record-high of nine named storms––two of which are hurricanes––have already hit in early August.
“We are now entering the peak months of the Atlantic hurricane season, August through October,” National Weather Service Director Louis Uccellini stated. “Given the activity we have seen so far this season, coupled with the ongoing challenges that communities face in the light of COVID-19, now is the time to organize your family plan and make necessary preparations.”
Although unclear whether climate change has been attributed to this rise in hurricane conditions, two climate patterns have played a key role in creating an active hurricane season. Abnormally warm seawater temperatures in the tropical Atlantic allow for the development of stronger storms. In addition, wind currents formed by La Nina, a weather pattern that brings cooler waters to the Pacific, may repress winds that usually prevent the formation of tropical storms.
Storms receive names after sustaining wind speeds of over 63 kilometers per hour. NOAA predicts that 19 to 25 named storms could arise this season, with seven to 11 of these storms becoming hurricanes, of which three to six could be a Category 3 hurricane or higher. This is a dire contrast from forecasts in April, which had predicted only 18 named storms.
The ferocity of this season may even be comparable to the hurricane season of 2005, which had a record high of 28 named storms and 15 hurricanes of which included Hurricane Katrina. According to researchers at the Colorado State University, the probability of at least one major hurricane making landfall in the United States during the season has risen to 74 percent, while the average seasonal likelihood of past seasons was 52 percent.
“When we do have more activity, there is a [trend] of more storms coming towards major landmasses –– coming towards the U.S., coming towards Central America, and the Caribbean, and even sometimes up towards Canada,” says meteorologist Matthrew Rosencrans of NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center in College Park.