U.S. forecasters expect an above-normal 13-19 named storms during the 2020 Atlantic hurricane season from June 1 through November 30, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Climate Prediction Center said on Thursday.
NOAA forecasters estimate three to six major hurricanes packing winds of at least 111 miles per hour may form. The last two years have seen an above-average number of named storms with 18 last year and 15 in 2018. An average hurricane season produces 12 named storms, of which six become hurricanes, including three major hurricanes.
The combination of several climate factors is driving the strong likelihood for above-normal activity in the Atlantic this year. El Nino Southern Oscillation (ENSO) conditions are expected to either remain neutral or to trend toward La Nina, meaning there will not be an El Nino present to suppress hurricane activity. Also, warmer-than-average sea surface temperatures in the tropical Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean Sea, coupled with reduced vertical wind shear, weaker tropical Atlantic trade winds, and an enhanced west African monsoon all increase the likelihood for an above-normal Atlantic hurricane season. Similar conditions have been producing more active seasons since the current high-activity era began in 1995.
“NOAA’s analysis of current and seasonal atmospheric conditions reveals a recipe for an active Atlantic hurricane season this year,” said Neil Jacobs, Ph.D., acting NOAA administrator. “Our skilled forecasters, coupled with upgrades to our computer models and observing technologies, will provide accurate and timely forecasts to protect life and property.”
This year, as during any hurricane season, the men and women of NOAA remain ready to provide forecasts and warnings. And as storms show signs of developing, NOAA hurricane hunter aircraft will be prepared to collect data for the agency’s forecasters and computer models.
In addition, NOAA is also launching new upgrades to products and tools that will further improve its services during the hurricane season.
NOAA will upgrade the hurricane-specific Hurricane Weather Research and Forecast system (HWRF) and the Hurricanes in a Multi-scale Ocean coupled Non-hydrostatic model (HMON) models this summer. HWRF will incorporate new data from satellites and radar from NOAA’s coastal Doppler data network to help produce better forecasts of hurricane track and intensity during the critical watch and warning time frame. HMON will undergo enhancements to include higher resolution, improved physics, and coupling with ocean models.
As the hurricane season gets underway, NOAA will begin feeding data from the COSMIC-2 satellites into weather models to help track hurricane intensity and boost forecast accuracy. COSMIC-2 provides data about air temperature, pressure and humidity in the tropical regions of Earth — precisely where hurricane and tropical storm systems form.
Also during the 2020 hurricane season, NOAA and the U.S. Navy will deploy a fleet of autonomous diving hurricane gliders to observe conditions in the tropical Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean Sea in areas where hurricanes have historically traveled and intensified.
In addition to the Atlantic hurricane season outlook, NOAA also issued seasonal hurricane outlooks for the eastern and central Pacific basins.