Climate forecasters updated their outlook for the Atlantic hurricane season, predicting an “extremely active” season due to atmospheric and oceanic conditions that are ideal for fueling storms.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Climate Prediction Center is warning about a potentially record-setting season.
The 2020 Atlantic hurricane season already has seen a record nine named storms. Historically, two named storms form by early August, on average.
“This is one of the most active seasonal forecasts that NOAA has produced in its 22 year history of hurricane outlooks,” U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said in a statement.
NOAA is calling for 19 to 25 named storms — winds of 39 mph or greater — in the August update to its initial May forecast. Of those, between seven and 11 are expected become major hurricanes with winds of 111 mph or higher.
“This year, we expect more, stronger and longer-lived storms than average, and our predicted ACE range extends well above NOAA’s threshold for an extremely active season,” said Gerry Bell, lead seasonal hurricane forecaster at NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center.
In a recently updated hurricane outlook from Colorado State University, meteorologists found well above average odds of a major hurricane (Category 3, 4 or 5) making landfall in the lower 48 states compared with the seasonal average odds, according to a report by The Washington Post.
The waters off the East Coast are increasingly warm, and are up as much as 1.3 degrees in the Caribbean and nearly 1 degree in the Gulf of Mexico.
Sea-surface temperatures are also above average in the Caribbean and the “main development region” between West Africa and the Lesser Antilles. This is where many of the most damaging hurricanes in history have formed.
This season’s forecast includes three ingredients for hurricanes: a lot of warm water, ideal wind shear and waves caused by the Sahara summer that propagate to the east, causing a spinning effect, according to Richard Rood, professor of climate and space sciences and engineering at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.
Warming waters and rising sea levels create additional opportunities for intensified winds in tropical cyclones and larger storm surges, potentially culminating in multiple hazards in areas that have not seen such threats in the past, Rood told Trade Only Today.
“Definitely, the climate has impacts on hurricanes,” Rood said in an article that appeared in the June issue of Soundings Trade Only. “There is no one impact; there are many types of impacts.”
NOAA’s hurricane outlook is for overall seasonal activity and is not a landfall forecast. Landfalls are largely determined by short-term weather patterns, which are only predictable within about a week of a storm potentially reaching a coast.
NOAA’s National Hurricane Center provides tropical weather outlooks out to five days in advance, provides track and intensity forecasts for individual storms, and issues watches and warnings for specific tropical storms, hurricanes and the associated storm surge.