SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) - Forecasters at Colorado State University and many more among the meteorological community are expecting a “busier-than-normal” 2020 Atlantic Hurricane Season.
CSU is forecasting 16 named-storms to develop; eight of these becoming hurricanes and four becoming major hurricanes. Obviously, there is always some uncertainty going into any particular hurricane season. There are a lot of variables at play and some of these factors have only recently been heavily studied within the past 20 years or so.
Factors impacting this Hurricane Season 2020 -
1. The absence of El Nino
El Nino is not forecast to develop this summer. Water temperatures across a portion of the Pacific west of Peru are not abnormally cool, nor are they abnormally warm. A warm-neutral condition is occurring; warmer than ‘average’ but not to the level of being considered an El Nino. Wind shear tends to increase across the Atlantic Basin during an El Nino event. Wind shear tends to limit the number of tropical systems that develop and their intensity during any given hurricane season. The lack of an El Nino implies that wind shear will be at near-normal or even below-normal levels throughout the summer.
2. Sea Surface Temperatures
Water temperature warmth is already ahead of schedule, especially across the Gulf of Mexico and portions of the southwest Atlantic. Warm sea surface temperatures are only one ingredient needed for a tropical system to form. But, the warmer the water, the stronger the storm if all other conditions are ideal.
Keep in mind that a busy hurricane season doesn’t always equate to a destructive hurricane season. One hundred storms could form – not actually, but you get the idea – and if they all stayed out in the Atlantic, it may seem like it was a quiet hurricane season. When, in fact, it was the opposite. Regardless of the number of systems that end up forming, it only takes one monster storm to make landfall in the United States for it to be considered bad or memorable.
Category 5 Major Hurricane Andrew was the first named storm of the season, did not form until August. It was horribly destructive across south Florida and brought damaging winds and storm surge to the central Gulf Coast.
Only six named-storms formed during the 1992 Atlantic Hurricane Season.
Another example -
Category 3 Major Hurricane Alicia formed in August and made landfall on the upper-Texas coast. The damage was extensive to Galveston Island and portions of the Houston, Texas, Metropolitan area.
Only four named-storms formed during the 1992 Atlantic Hurricane Season!
The moral of the story? A busy season doesn’t mean widespread doom, just like a quiet season doesn’t mean you can let your guard down. It only takes one.
Now is the time – while the weather is quiet – to check your supply. Jot down a list of what needs to be refilled. Review your safety and evacuation plans. Make sure that you have copies of your latest insurance policies, property photos, and necessary financial information so that you are ready to go even before the hurricane season officially begins.
Taking steps to prepare now will make life a lot easier if we are threatened by a storm this season. Check out the WTOC Hurricane Center page for more information.