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Updated hurricane forecast signals an even more active 2020 hurricane season

Exceptionally warm Atlantic sea surface temperatures could fuel a very active season
Published: Aug. 6, 2020 at 4:10 PM EDT|Updated: Aug. 6, 2020 at 5:01 PM EDT
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ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ) - There have already been 9 named storms in the 2020 Atlantic hurricane season so far. Two of which became hurricanes: Hanna and Isaias. A mid-season update from Colorado State University (CSU) and now the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) expects the rest of the season to be exceptionally active—even more so than originally forecast.

On Wednesday, Colorado State University released their updated forecast. They now forecast 24 named storms, 12 hurricanes, and 5 major hurricanes. These numbers include the already 9 named storms so far this season. It is common for updates to be made to seasonal hurricane forecasts after observing conditions and considering what could change in the remainder of the season.

ATLANTIC OCEAN HAS TURNED INTO A BATHTUB

Colorado State points to a number of factors for the reasoning behind an active season. One of the bigger reasons is the exceptionally above-average sea surface temperatures of the Atlantic which are running at levels not seen very often. Currently water temperatures are the 4th warmest on record and trailing the historic 2005 season.

Another reason for the very active forecast is the well-below average vertical wind shear. Typically high levels of vertical wind shear act to reduce activity in the tropics. Strong upper level winds can literally blow the top of storms hundreds of miles away from the center of a tropical cyclone. Conditions are much more favorable for storm development when low levels of vertical shear are present.

The other significant factor is the weak La Niña forecast to develop in the Pacific later this summer. Under this weather pattern, the westerly winds higher up in the atmosphere weaken over the Atlantic which usually allows for more hurricanes to develop. The La Niña weather pattern also help keep lower levels of vertical wind shear.

NOAA ALSO PREDICTING MORE ACTIVE SEASON

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration also released their updated forecast on Thursday. The updated outlook calls for 19-25 named storms (winds of 39 mph or greater), of which 7-11 will become hurricanes (winds of 74 mph or greater), including 3-6 major hurricanes (winds of 111 mph or greater). This update covers the entire six-month hurricane season, which ends Nov. 30, and includes the nine named storms to date.

“This year, we expect more, stronger, and longer-lived storms than average,” said Gerry Bell, Ph.D., lead seasonal hurricane forecaster at NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center.

This year we have seen triple the amount of named storms than this point in 2019.
This year we have seen triple the amount of named storms than this point in 2019.(WDBJ7 Weather)

2019 ended up being the 4th most active season on record. Already we have seen 7 more named storms than last year up to this date! Typically we would see 9 named storms by early October. If the season goes as forecast, there is a legitimate chance we could reach into the Greek alphabet for the first time since the historic 2005 season that produced hurricanes such as Katrina and Wilma.

Regardless of how this season ends up, it only takes one storm to destroy a community or change someone’s life. There is no better time to makes sure that you have an emergency plan and a kit in case of a disaster. For more helpful information on what you need in your emergency kit, click here.

Count on the WDBJ7 Weather team to keep you updated on-air, and in our new Hurricane Center on WDBJ7.com.

Copyright 2020 WDBJ. All rights reserved.

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