As of June 1, 2020 we are officially in Hurricane Season, which will last until 30 November. The predictions for 2020 are more dire than seasons past, more on that in a moment. For now let’s looks at some basic details about the start of the 2020 Hurricane Season.
Hurricane / Tropical Cyclone Names for 2020
Here are the names of the 2020 tropical cyclones, appearing in order: they will be assigned:
Arthur, Bertha, Cristobal, Dolly, Edouard, Fay, Gonzalo, Hanna, Isaias,
Josephine, Kyle, Laura, Marco, Nana, Omar, Paulette, Rene, Sally, Teddy,
If you’re wondering about the names for 2021, here they are:
Ana, Bill, Claudette, Danny, Elsa, Fred, Grace, Henri, Ida, Julian, Kate, Larry, Mindy, Nicholas, Odette, Peter, Rose, Sam, Teresa, Victor, Wanda.
Since 1953, Atlantic tropical storms had been named from lists originated by the National Hurricane Center. They are now maintained and updated through a strict procedure by an international committee of the World Meteorological Organization.
About Storm Names
Hurricane names are used in rotation and re-cycled every six years, i.e., the 2019 list will be used again in 2025. The only time that there is a change in the list is if a storm is so deadly or costly that the future use of its name on a different storm would be inappropriate for reasons of sensitivity. If that occurs, then at an annual meeting by the WMO committee (called primarily to discuss many other issues) the offending name is stricken from the list and another name is selected to replace it. Several names have been retired since the lists were created.
If a storm forms in the off-season, it will take the next name in the list based on the current calendar date. For example, if a tropical cyclone formed on December 28th, it would take the name from the previous season’s list of names. If a storm formed in February, it would be named from the subsequent season’s list of names.
In the event that more than twenty-one named tropical cyclones occur in the Atlantic basin in a season, additional storms will take names from the Greek alphabet.
COVID-19 and the 2020 Hurricane Season
Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, officials in the United States have expressed concerns about the hurricane season potentially exacerbating the effects of the pandemic. Evacuations would be significantly hindered due to fears of contracting the virus and social distancing rules would break down when giving aid to hurricane-affected areas.
2020 Atlantic Storm Predictions
Each Year the Department of Atmospheric Science at Colorado State University, presents a set of predictions based on calculations and formulas developed over many years.
Forecast Parameter and 1981-2010
Average (in parentheses) – Issue Date 2 April 2020
Named Storms (NS) (12.1) 16
Named Storm Days (NSD) (59.4) 80
Hurricanes (H) (6.4) 8
Hurricane Days (HD) (24.2) 35
Major Hurricanes (MH) (2.7) 4
Major Hurricane Days (MHD) (6.2) 9
Accumulated Cyclone Energy (ACE) (106) 150
Net Tropical Cyclone Activity (NTC) (116%) 160
PROBABILITIES FOR AT LEAST ONE MAJOR (CATEGORY 3-4-5) HURRICANE LANDFALL ON EACH OF THE FOLLOWING COASTAL AREAS:
1) Entire continental U.S. coastline – 69% (average for last century is 52%)
2) U.S. East Coast Including Peninsula Florida – 45% (average for last century is 31%)
3) Gulf Coast from the Florida Panhandle westward to Brownsville – 44% (average for last century is 30%)
PROBABILITY FOR AT LEAST ONE MAJOR (CATEGORY 3-4-5) HURRICANE TRACKING INTO THE CARIBBEAN (10-20°N, 88-60°W)
1) 58% (average for last century is 42%)
How the University of Colorado uses data to Predict Hurricanes
Information obtained through March 2020 indicates that the 2020 Atlantic hurricane season will have activity above the 1981-2010 average. We estimate that 2020 will have about 8 hurricanes (average is 6.4), 16 named storms (average is 12.1), 80 named storm days (average is 59.4), 35 hurricane days (average is 24.2), 4 major (Category 3-4-5) hurricanes (average is 2.7) and 9 major hurricane days (average is 6.2). The probability of U.S. major hurricane landfall is estimated to be about 130 percent of the long-period average. We expect Atlantic basin Accumulated Cyclone Energy (ACE) and Net Tropical Cyclone (NTC) activity in 2020 to be approximately 140 percent of their long-term averages.
This forecast is based on a new extended-range early April statistical prediction scheme that was developed using 38 years of past data. Analog predictors are also utilized. We are also including statistical/dynamical models based off data from both the ECMWF SEAS5 model and the Met Office GloSea5 model as two additional forecast guidance tools. We are also including probability of exceedance curves to better quantify the uncertainty in these outlooks.
The current warm neutral ENSO event appears likely to transition to either cool neutral ENSO or weak La Niña during the summer/fall. The tropical Atlantic is warmer than normal, while the subtropical Atlantic is quite warm, and the far North Atlantic is anomalously cool. The anomalously cold sea surface temperatures in the far North Atlantic lead us to believe that the Atlantic Multi-decadal Oscillation is in its negative phase. While a cold far North Atlantic is typically associated with a cold tropical Atlantic, that has not occurred this winter.
Coastal residents are reminded that it only takes one hurricane making landfall to make it an active season for them, and they need to prepare the same for every season, regardless of how much activity is predicted.
The early April forecast is the earliest seasonal forecast issued by Colorado State University and has modest long-term skill when evaluated in hindcast mode. The skill of CSU’s forecast updates increases as the peak of the Atlantic hurricane season approaches. For the first time this year, we are also presenting probabilities that exceed hurricanes and Accumulated Cyclone Energy to give interested readers a better idea of the uncertainty associated with these forecasts.