The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is forecasting an active hurricane season this year, with up to 19 named storms. On Thursday, the last update before the start of the hurricane season, the nation’s forecasters predicted there would be between 13 and 19 named storms, of which six to 10 could become hurricanes and three to six major storms with winds over 115 mph.
“It is not possible to predict how many will hit land,” said Neil Jacobs, acting administrator of NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center. The agency will update the forecast in August as the Atlantic region heads into its most active months.
A neutral phase to EL Nino in addition to the likelihood of cooler water developing in the Pacific could boost the frequency of Atlantic tropical cyclones. The region has been a “high activity era” since 1995, with warmer ocean temperatures and stronger West African monsoons causing above-average activity, NOAA forecaster Gerry Bell said.
The official forecast from NOAA and that from Colorado State University are the two leading research groups. The consensus between all of the forecasts this year is for a more active season than it was for the past few years.
Colorado State University forecast says the 2020 Atlantic hurricane season will have activity above the 1981-2010 average. They estimate that about eight hurricanes should develop which is above the average of six. In addition to 16 named storms (average is 12.) and four major hurricanes, compared to an average of three.
UK Met Office released its seasonal hurricane forecast calling for near-average Atlantic hurricane season with most likely numbers of 13 named storms, seven hurricanes and three major (Category 3+) hurricanes between June and November.
One thing that will be different this year is coronavirus, with the Federal Emergency Management Agency saying it is critically important for people in evacuation zones to plan to stay with friends or family, rather than end up in shelters during the coronavirus pandemic.
"Shelters are meant to keep you safe, not make you comfortable,'' said Carlos Castillo, FEMA’s acting deputy administrator for resilience.
“Social distancing and other CDC guidance to keep you safe from COVID-19 may impact the disaster preparedness plan you had in place, including what is in your go-kit, evacuation routes, shelters, and more,`` Castillo said. ``With tornado season at its peak, hurricane season around the corner, and flooding, earthquakes and wildfires a risk year-round, it is time to revise and adjust your emergency plan now.”
The season officially extends from June through November, but Tropical Storm Arthur jumped the gun last week off the eastern U.S. coastline.
“As Americans focus their attention on a safe and healthy reopening of our country, it remains critically important that we also remember to make the necessary preparations for the upcoming hurricane season,” said Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross. “Just as in years past, NOAA experts will stay ahead of developing hurricanes and tropical storms and provide the forecasts and warnings we depend on to stay safe.”