Up to 25 named storms now predicted for the 2020 Atlantic hurricane season
This year’s hurricane season is shaping up to be one of the more active seasons on record — and it will only get worse as the season’s traditional peak begins this month and runs through October. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) came out with its mid-season forecast and predicted that this year’s hurricane season has an 85 percent chance of being “above-normal” following Hurricane Isaias, which made landfall in North Carolina earlier this month. The latest estimates call for nearly twice the normal number of named storms this year, between 19 and 25. Even before August 1, nine named storms have already formed — the most ever recorded since the satellite era began in 1966.
The current pace is far ahead of historic norms. The last high storm forecast happened in 2005; 21 storms were predicted, which became a record-setting hurricane season for communities in the United States along the Atlantic Ocean when major storms such as Katrina, Rita, Dennis and Wilma caused chaos. The only time Greek letters had to be used for storm names was in 2005. The expected spate of storms in 2020 could force meteorologists to resort to using the Greek alphabet to name cyclones if the list of 21 storm names selected by the World Meteorological Organization is exhausted before the season ends. The remaining storm names for the 2020 season are: Josephine, Kyle, Laura, Marco, Nana, Omar, Paulette, Rene, Sally, Teddy, Vicky and Wilfred.
To become a named storm, a system must have maximum sustained winds of 39 mph or greater, and NOAA believes that anywhere from seven to 11 of the named storms will become hurricanes (with winds of at least 74 mph). The forecasters predict that three to six storms will be major hurricanes, with winds of 111 mph or stronger.
The boost in hurricane formation is driven by sea surface temperatures that are much warmer than usual as well as prevalent wind conditions. The predictions do not necessarily mean that all of the storms will make landfall; other weather patterns will affect the number of hurricanes that come ashore. But people on or near the coasts should be mindful of the increased risk and prepare accordingly. In addition to strong winds, many of the most dangerous storms in recent years have brought tremendous amounts of rain – creating new threats to people and infrastructure far inland from the coast.