Busy hurricane season predicted for 2020
With the 2020 hurricane season upon us, preparedness is critically important, just as it is every year. Preparing ahead of a disaster is the responsibility of all levels of government, the private sector and the public because it only takes one event to devastate a community. The International Code Council offers a variety of cutting-edge tools and resources, including Hurricane Safety & Recovery that consists of products and resources from the Code Council and its partners in safety, to help secure communities against the threat posed by hurricanes and tropical cyclones across both the Atlantic and Pacific. Throughout hurricane season, the Code Council is dedicated to helping communities stay safe in their homes, workplaces and neighborhoods.
Preparedness is critically important this year with the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Disaster preparedness actions may need to be adjusted based on the latest health and safety guidelines from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and your local officials, including what is included in emergency go-kits, evacuation routes, shelters and more.
This year the average forecast — for all 13 groups that have submitted to Seasonal Hurricane Predictions — is eight hurricanes and 17 named storms. If this year does end up being an above-average season, it will be the fifth year in a row and will break the previous record of four set back in 1998–2001.
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration forecast
This year, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Climate Prediction Center is predicting that an above-normal Atlantic hurricane season is expected. This outlook forecasts a 60-percent chance of an above-normal season, a 30-percent chance of a near-normal season and a 10-percent chance of a below-normal season. For 2020, NOAA predicts a likely range of 13 to 19 named storms (winds of 39 mph or higher), of which six to 10 could become hurricanes (winds of 74 mph or higher), including three to six major hurricanes (category 3, 4 or 5; with winds of 111 mph or higher). The NOAA forecast is for overall seasonal activity and is not a landfall forecast. The NOAA Climate Prediction Center will update the 2020 Atlantic seasonal outlook in August just prior to the historical peak of the season.
In addition to the Atlantic hurricane season outlook, NOAA also issued seasonal hurricane outlooks for the eastern and central Pacific basins. A 70-percent chance of an above-normal season is predicted for both the eastern and central Pacific regions.
Central Pacific outlook
This year will likely see less activity in the central Pacific region compared to more active seasons, since ocean temperatures are likely to be near-average in the central and eastern Pacific Ocean where hurricanes form, and because El Nino is not present to increase the activity. There is a 75-percent chance of near- or below-normal tropical cyclone activity during the central Pacific hurricane season this year, according to NOAA’s Central Pacific Hurricane Center and NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center. The outlook also indicates a 25-percent chance of an above-normal season. For the season as a whole, two to six tropical cyclones are predicted for the central Pacific hurricane region. This number includes tropical depressions, named storms and hurricanes. A near-normal season has four or five tropical cyclones.
Eastern Pacific outlook
The 2020 eastern Pacific outlook indicates a near- or below-normal season to be most likely (75-percent combined chance), according to NOAA. There is a 40-percent chance of a near-normal season and a 35-percent chance of a below-normal season, followed by a 25-percent chance of an above-normal season. For the season as a whole, the outlook calls for a 70-percent probability for 11 to 18 named storms, five to 10 hurricanes and one to five major hurricanes. The eastern Pacific hurricane season officially runs from May 15 through November 30. The peak months of the season are July-September.
Colorado State University forecast
Hurricane researchers at Colorado State University (CSU) are predicting an above-average 2020 Atlantic hurricane season in their seasonal hurricane outlook, which was released in April. Specifically, they expect it to be 140 percent of the average, calling for 16 total named storms. Of those storms, the CSU team is forecasting eight hurricanes, four of them being major hurricanes (a Category three storm or higher with sustained wind speeds of 111 to 129 mph). Colorado State University has been doing seasonal hurricane projections since 1984, the longest of any group.
The Weather Company forecast
In April, The Weather Company also predicted that the 2020 Atlantic hurricane season would be more active than usual. The outlook calls for 18 named storms, nine hurricanes and four major hurricanes (one that is Category 3 or higher on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale). This forecast is significantly above the 30-year (1981-2010) normalized average of 13 named storms, seven hurricanes and three major hurricanes.
European Centre for Medium-Range Weather forecast
There is one organization that is a slight outlier. The European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF) is forecasting a normal to a slightly above-normal season. They are basing their forecast off a weaker La Nina development and sea surface temperatures that won’t climb quite as high as other groups are forecasting. Also, their calibration is based on 1993-2015 and does not take into account the last four years (2016-2019), which have been more active. The ECMWF seasonal hurricane forecast is derived from a count of vortices spun up by the model during the hurricane season.
The hurricane season officially extends from June 1 to November 30. An average hurricane season produces 12 named storms, of which six become hurricanes, including three major hurricanes. Visit the National Hurricane Center website throughout the season to stay current on any watches and warnings.