Orlando, Fla. —
The official hurricane season forecast was released by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Climate Prediction Center on Thursday morning. The forecast calls for 13 to 19 named storms, and six to 10 could become hurricanes. Three to six storms could become major hurricanes. Forecasters are 70% confident of these ranges.
The average season has 12 named storms, six of which are hurricanes and three are major hurricanes.
WHY SO ACTIVE?
First, El Niño is expected to fade and be neutral while La Niña is expected to trend. El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO) is a pattern that brings warmer waters over the eastern Pacific and brings high wind shear over the Atlantic Ocean, which suppresses hurricane formation over the Atlantic Ocean. To the other extreme, La Niña, brings very calm wind shear, which allows storms to continue their developmental cycle.
Sea surface water temperatures continue to be above average in the tropical Atlantic region and the Caribbean Sea. The tropical Atlantic trade winds are weak and the West African monsoon (lots of rain in West Africa) is enhanced. All these factors play a key role in the recipe for an active hurricane season.
The most recent high activity era started in 1995. It's been observed that these key ingredients have been triggering more active seasons.
WHAT’S NEW THIS SEASON?
NOAA has made several upgrades to models and systems. Here’s a list of the upgrades in new products coming this 2020 hurricane season:
- Upgrade to the Hurricane Weather Research and Forecast System (HWRF)
- Hurricanes in a Multi-scale Ocean Coupled Non-hydrostatic model (HMON): Higher resolution, improved physics and coupling with ocean models are among some of the improvements with this model.
- Feeding data from the COSMIC-2 Satellites into weather models: This will help better track hurricane intensity and boost forecast accuracy.
- This will be the first year when both NOAA and the U.S. Navy will deploy a fleet of autonomous diving hurricane gliders to observe conditions in the tropical Atlantic Ocean and the Caribbean Sea.
An update to this season’s forecast is usually released in August just before the season starts to pick up in activity on average. These types of forecasts should be used as guidance. Remember, it only takes one tropical storm or hurricane to impact your location to make it a busy season for you. Also, this or any season forecast does not discuss locations of landfall as those are impossible to predict without a current system to analyze.
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