National Hurricane Center Increases Prediction for 2020

After predicting that the 2020 hurricane season would be slightly above average earlier in the year, the National Hurricane Center (NHC) now predicts the season will be extremely active. An NHC outlook released Thursday indicates this season could almost double the average.

NHC predicts 19 to 25 named storms, though they do not predict how many will make landfall. Of those, NHC also predicts 7 to 11 will become hurricanes and 3 to 6 will become major hurricanes.

Historically, only two named storms form on average by early August, and the ninth named storm typically does not form until October 4. An average season produces 12 named storms, including six hurricanes of which three become major hurricanes (Category 3, 4, or 5).

Factors Behind Change

Current oceanic and atmospheric conditions that make an “extremely active” hurricane season possible are:

  • Warmer-than-average sea surface temperatures in the tropical Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean Sea
  • Reduced vertical wind shear
  • Weaker tropical Atlantic trade winds
  • An enhanced west African monsoon
  • Ongoing warm phase of the Atlantic Multi-Decadal Oscillation, which reappeared in 1995 and has been favoring more active hurricane seasons since that time. 

Another contributing climate factor this year is the possibility of La Nina developing in the months ahead. Indicative of cooler-than-average sea surface temperatures in the equatorial regions of the eastern Pacific Ocean, La Nina can further weaken the wind shear over the Atlantic Basin, allowing storms to develop and intensify. 

Underscores Need for Preparedness

Said Neil Jacobs, Ph.D., acting NOAA administrator. “It is now more important than ever to stay informed with our forecasts, have a preparedness plan, and heed guidance from local emergency management officials.”

“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. “We encourage all Americans to do their part by getting prepared, remaining vigilant, and being ready to take action when necessary.” 

Stay tuned to the National Hurricane Center for the latest about tropical storm and hurricane activity in the Atlantic.

Posted by Bob Rehak on 8/7/2020 based on predictions by the NHC

1074 Days since Hurricane Harvey