What a start to the 2020 hurricane season in the Atlantic basin! The season began with Tropical Storm Arthur back in mid-May. Now, nine other named storms and two hurricanes later, we are on record setting pace for most named storms to occur since 1950.
NUMBER OF NAMED STORMS COMPARED TO AVERAGE…
10 named storms have developed in the Atlantic basin so far, which is record pace through the first part of August. This includes 5 named storms in July alone!
The only other that 5 named storms formed in July was back in 2005. That year was a record hurricane season with the most named storms ever to form. That year ran through the whole list of names of the alphabet and then some. Names from the Greek alphabet were even used!
The average number of named storms in the Atlantic basin is 12 so we are already more than 80% of the way there.
Isaias formed in late July and typically we don’t get to the letter ‘I’ of the name list of storms until early October. In 2019 we reached ‘I’ with Imelda in mid- September.
Five of the ten tropical systems have made landfall in the United States through the first part of August 2020, which is also a record. Two of the five named storms to come ashore in the U.S. were hurricanes, Hanna and Isaias. On average only two hurricanes make landfall in the U.S. during the entire season.
HOW FAR ALONG ARE WE IN THE SEASON AND WHAT’S AHEAD…
Here’s a good sports analogy when referring to where we are in the hurricane season. Think of early to mid-August like being in week 2 in the National Football League season. There are 17 weeks in a normal NFL season in case you didn’t know.
The busiest time part of the season is typically September with usually another little spike in activity in mid-October too. Yes, the tropics are fairly quiet as of August 12th with only one storm (Josephine, likely becoming the 10th named storm) spinning across the Atlantic. However, the expectations from NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) is that activity will really ramp up late this month into September.
The latest prediction for the Atlantic hurricane season released this past week from NOAA is for another ten to 15 named storms, including five to ten hurricanes and three to six major hurricanes with winds over 110 mph. The Colorado State University also predicts an active hurricane season with another 15 named storms and ten more hurricanes.
REASONS THAT ACTIVE HURRICANE SEASON LIKELY CONTINUES…
A couple of contributing factors for the unusual active hurricane season to continue are the warm tropical and subtropical waters in the Atlantic and La Nina likely setting up over the coming weeks and months.
La Nina, a cooler than average surface water temps in the eastern equatorial Pacific, usually leads to a surge in tropical activity in the Atlantic due to a weakening of the westerly upper level winds. The weaker westerly winds leads to less vertical wind shear making for a more favorable environment for the development of hurricanes and even major hurricanes of at least category 3 strength (winds over 110 mph).
Bottom line, those that live on the islands in the Atlantic, Gulf Coast and Southeast and Carolina coastal areas need to be on guard more so than usual over the next two months.
Thankfully, for us here in Central New York, while tropical systems can affect the region with some flooding rain and a limited amount of wind, we are typically spared the wrath of these beasts.