CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - NOAA expects an above-normal 2020 Atlantic hurricane season this year.
That's according to forecasters with NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center, a division of the National Weather Service, who predict a 60% chance of an above-normal season, a 30% chance of a near-normal season and only a 10% chance of a below-normal season.
The forecast includes the following predictions:
- 13-19 named storms (maximum sustained winds of 39 mph or higher)
- 6-10 hurricanes (maximum sustained winds of 74 mph or higher)
- 3-6 major hurricanes (Category 3, 4 or 5, with winds of 111 mph or higher)
An average hurricane season produces 12 named storms of which six become hurricanes. An average hurricane season produces three major hurricanes.
Forecasters expect El Nino conditions 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,” acting NOAA administrator Dr. Neil Jacobs said.
“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,” Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross said. “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.”
The Atlantic hurricane season runs from June 1 through Nov. 30.
But this year was the sixth consecutive year that the first named storm of the season formed before that official kickoff. Tropical Storm Arthur formed Saturday in waters off Florida.
Last year, the first named storm of the season, Subtropical Storm Andrea, also formed before the official start of the season. It formed on May 20 and also stayed out in the ocean and away from the United States.
It was the fifth consecutive year that tropical (or subtropical) activity began before the June 1 start.
In 2018, Tropical Storm Alberto formed on May 25. Tropical Storm Arlene formed on April 19, 2017.
Hurricane Alex, a very unusual January hurricane, formed on Jan. 12, 2016. The second named storm of the 2016 season, Tropical Storm Bonnie, formed on May 27.
Tropical Storm Ana formed on May 8, 2015.