An extremely active hurricane season is expected in the Atlantic Basin this year, according to an update by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
Meteorologists predict the upcoming hurricane season, which extends from June 1 to November 30, could have 19-25 named storms (above 63 km/h; 39 mph), with 7-11 of those becoming hurricanes (above 119 km/h; 74 mph). The average number of storms per season is 12 named storms, which means this season could see double the usual amount. In fact, the 2020 Atlantic hurricane season is already off to a blistering, record pace, with nine named storms having formed before August 1.
“This is one of the most active seasonal forecasts that NOAA has produced in its 22-year history of hurricane outlooks. NOAA will continue to provide the best possible science and service to communities across the Nation for the remainder of hurricane season to ensure public readiness and safety,” said US Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross in the NOAA media release. “We encourage all Americans to do their part by getting prepared, remaining vigilant, and being ready to take action when necessary.”
Using the Accumulated Cyclone Energy (ACE) index, which measures the combined total duration and intensity of all named storms during the season, NOAA predicts there is an 85 percent chance of a more active season than average this year. There have been various ACE index predictions for the 2020 season, with meteorology centers releasing different values (University of Arizona forecast, NC State University), but best bets at the start of the season ranged from 110-168 and mid-season forecasts are predicting almost record-breaking numbers of named storms. This is a stark contrast to 2019, in which the ACE index was just 97 (x104 knots2) compared to the season average of 132 (x104 knots2) from 1981-2010.
It is believed the active season could be a result of higher-than-average sea surface temperatures over the North Atlantic, changes in wind shear, weaker tropical Atlantic trade winds, and a possible La Nina event, which can increase the development and intensity of storms.
Extreme weather has been ramping up in recent years. It is widely accepted that human influence is likely having an impact on the increase in extreme weather events. An analysis by Carbon Brief suggests 69 percent of the 355 extreme weather events looked at “were found to be made more likely or more severe by human-caused climate change.”
If you are in an area that may be affected by the coming hurricane season, check out the NOAA storm prediction center and the National Weather Service’s hurricane preparedness guidelines.