CSU expects above-average 2020 Atlantic hurricane season


The Colorado State University (CSU) Tropical Meteorology Project expects above-average 2020 Atlantic hurricane season, with 16 named storms, 8 hurricanes, and 4 major hurricanes.

The forecast is based on more than 30 years of statistical factors, as well as data from seasons showing similar features of sea-level pressure and sea-surface temperatures in the Atlantic ocean and the Eastern Pacific. 

The group of meteorologists and research scientists, led by Dr. Phil Klotzbach, were among the first to issue an outlook for the season.

"We anticipate that the 2020 Atlantic Basin hurricane season will have above-normal activity," said Klotzbach.

The season will officially start on June 1 and will last through the end of November. However, storms can occasionally form outside these months, just like the case in the previous three seasons with Subtropical Storm "Andrea" in May 2019, Tropical Storm "Alberto" in May 2018, and Tropical Storm "Arlene" in April 2017.

The outlook is calling for a roughly 70 percent chance of a major hurricane, which is at least a Category 3 storm with sustained winds of up to 185 km/h (115 mph).

"One of the factors we are looking at for this year is that we do not anticipate El Nino conditions going on," Klotzbach explained. An El Nino would mean warmer than usual water in the central and easter Pacific ocean, which would generate more wind shear to tear apart hurricanes in the Atlantic. More hurricanes may form as El Nino is not expected to limit development.

Another factor would be the warm waters in the Atlantic Basin. "Warmer-than-normal water temperatures [in the Atlantic] are associated with a more unstable atmosphere and also more moisture. The combination provides more fuel for the storms and that in turn tends to lead to more active hurricane seasons," Klotzbach stated.

The research scientist further explained that there are five previous hurricane seasons that compare to the expected season this year, and those are 1960, 1966, 1980, 1996, and 2008.

"We look at these five analog seasons and four of the five seasons we selected had above-normal hurricane activity, while 1960 had near-normal hurricane activity."

While the outlook covers the entire Atlantic basin from a standpoint of below or above-average activity, it does not guarantee that a tropical cyclone will occur.

"Regardless of the hurricane forecast, we can’t say when or where storms are going to strike," said Klotzbach.

"So you need to be prepared for any hurricane season because it just takes that one hurricane making landfall near where you live to make it an active season for you."

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Featured image credit: PIRO4D/Pixabay


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