Hurricane Season Could be One of the Busiest on Record: New Forecasts

New Atlantic hurricane season forecast

2019 ended up being the 4th most active season on record.

The 2020 season will likely bring from 19 to 25 named storms, said Gerry Bell, lead seasonal hurricane forecaster at NOAA's Climate Prediction Center.

There have already been a record-setting nine named storms so far, and NOAA says the 2020 season has the potential to be the "busiest on record" for the Atlantic, the Caribbean and the Gulf of Mexico.

Forecasters said that historically, the ninth named storm doesn't form until early October. The latest estimates call for almost twice the normal number of named storms this year. In addition to strong winds, numerous most risky storms in recent years have brought tremendous amounts of rain - creating new threats to people and infrastructure far inland from the coast.

This year's forecast of up to 25 is the highest number NOAA has ever predicted, beating the 21 predicted for 2005, Bell said. First, we have already had nine named storms.

They now forecast 24 named storms, 12 hurricanes, and 5 major hurricanes. If there are more than 21 storms, meteorologists turn after Wilfred to the Greek alphabet - Alpha, Beta, Gamma and so on.

Second, we only have a list of 21 names for each hurricane season.

There is an 85% chance of 2020 being an "above-normal" hurricane season, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said on Thursday.

The last hurricane of the 2005 season was Hurricane Epsilon, which formed far out in the Atlantic in late November.

The number of storms doesn't matter as much as where they go, Massachusetts Institute of Technology meteorology professor Kerry Emanuel said, noting the busy 2010 hurricane season barely touched the United States.

Lead Colorado State forecaster Phil Klotzbach said all the factors that cause hurricane seasons to be busy are dialled up this year, including increased storminess in Africa that seeds the biggest hurricanes, warmer water that fuels storms and reduced high-level winds that kill storms.

It is important to remember that just because an updated forecast calls for a significant number of storms, that does not mean all of those storms will make landfall.

"Nine storms to this date is insane", Klotzbach said.

Most of this year's storms so far have been weak, decapitated by high level winds and dry air, but Klotzbach said that's about to change.

The boost in hurricane formation is driven by sea surface temperatures that are much warmer than usual as well as prevalent wind conditions, weather officials said.

"Warmer than normal water across the tropical Atlantic provides more fuel for tropical cyclones and also is associated with lower than normal pressure (as was observed in July) and increased instability-all of which favor more hurricane activity", they added.

"There could be more (than 25)", he said.

From 1981 to 2010, there have been an average of 12.1 named storms in the Atlantic season, according to Colorado State. When the Pacific is quiet, the Atlantic tends to be much busier as they tend to balance out. Research shows there are usually more Atlantic storms during a La Nina.

"This is one of the most active seasonal forecasts that NOAA has produced in its 22-year history of hurricane outlooks", said U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross.

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