Active early season tropical storm development in the Atlantic Basin, coupled with conditions likely to fuel even more storm formation in the weeks ahead, has prompted forecasters to increase their predictions for the 2020 hurricane season.
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration raised its forecast last week to 19 to 25 named storms, up from 20 named storms in its early July forecast.
“This is one of the most active seasonal forecasts that NOAA has produced in its 22-year history of hurricane outlooks," said Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross.
Nine named storms have formed through early August, compared to an average of two by this point in the season. The Atlantic hurricane season runs June 1 through Nov. 30.
“We expect more, stronger, and longer-lived storms than average, and our predicted [Accumulated Cyclone Energy] 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.
NOAA forecasters predict seven to 11 storms will become hurricanes with sustained winds in excess of 74 mph, with three to six reaching major hurricane status with winds exceeding 111 mph.
Department of Atmospheric Science at Colorado State University also revised its forecast last week, predicting 24 named storms for the season compared to 20 in its early July forecast.
CSU researchers predict 12 of those storms will become hurricanes, with five reaching major hurricane status.
“Sea surface temperatures averaged across the tropical Atlantic are much warmer than normal, and vertical wind shear is well below average," wrote Phil Klotzbach, chief meteorologist for the university's Tropical Meteorology Project. “We anticipate an above-normal probability for major hurricanes making landfall along the continental United States coastline and in the Caribbean."
Hurricane Isaias skirted the Florida coast before making landfall in southeastern North Carolina and moving inland as a dangerous tropical storm. It caused power outages affecting more than 200,000 electric cooperative meters from the Carolinas to New England.
“As is the case with all hurricane seasons, coastal residents are reminded that it only takes one hurricane making landfall to make it an active season for them," wrote Klotzbach. “They should prepare the same for every season, regardless of how much activity is predicted."