NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center has released its 2020 hurricane season forecast. NOAA predicts we will continue with the pattern of storms brewing above normal activity, but it will be even more extreme in the Atlantic this year. Aptly, the storm season has started early with Arthur, crossing one name off the list before the official start of the season.
NOAA reports a range of 13 to 19 named storms (a storm must have winds of 39 mph or higher to be named), of which 6 to 10 could become hurricanes (winds of 74 mph or higher), including 3 to 6 major hurricanes (category 3, 4, or 5; winds of 111 mph or higher). NOAA provides these ranges with a 70% confidence.
The 2020 hurricane season follows a pattern that began in 1995, a pattern of climatic factors that produce larger, stronger, more life-threatening storms. We have been seeing increasingly active storms due to warmer surface waters stirring wild dervishes of storms traveling the Atlantic. The warm surface temperatures — especially in the tropical Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean Sea — are huge factors in our increasingly threatening hurricane seasons.
NOAA notes that reduced vertical wind shear, weaker tropical Atlantic trade winds, and an enhanced west African monsoon are also factors increasing the Atlantic swirling.
An average hurricane season produces 12 named storms, of which 6 become hurricanes, including 3 major hurricanes. That means NOAA’s forecast represents a significant uptick in the biggest threats.
This season, in fact, Arthur showed up early, starting the season before the official start date. Next come Bertha and Cristobal. By the end of the year, at least one of the names on the list above may leave a painful, lasting image on our minds. Hannah? Omar? Nana?
El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO) conditions are expected to either remain neutral or trend toward La Niña, meaning there will not be an El Niño present to suppress hurricane activity.
If the predictions prove true, the busy season holds critical challenges on top of the already serious challenges of a normal hurricane season.
“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.
CleanTechnica’s advice is to charge up your electric vehicle early enough to evacuate if needed. One hopeful anecdote I can offer: at least in some parts of Florida, after Hurricane Irma hit, charging stations started working before gas pumps were back in action.
Also, consider where to park as storms show signs of developing. I found a secure hospital parking garage to store my Nissan LEAF during Irma.
This year brings another issue of vulnerability. Although shelters save lives, the need to be prepared in the midst of a coronavirus pandemic is different from what we’ve faced previously. Consider a more vacant getaway if possible.
“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,” NOAA writes. “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 hurricane gliders to observe conditions in the tropical Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean Sea in areas where hurricanes have historically traveled and intensified.”
You can visit the National Hurricane Center’s website — hurricanes.gov — any time to prepare for hurricanes and learn about developing trends (storms).
“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. 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,” said Carlos Castillo, acting deputy administrator for resilience at FEMA. “Natural disasters won’t wait, so I encourage you to keep COVID-19 in mind when revising or making your plan for you and your loved ones, and don’t forget your pets. An easy way to start is to download the FEMA app today.”
In addition to the Atlantic hurricane season outlook, NOAA also issued seasonal hurricane outlooks for the eastern and central Pacific basins.
Want more info in audio format? Here you go: audio from May 21 NOAA press call about 2020 Atlantic Hurricane Season Outlook.
A busy Atlantic Hurricane Season is predicted for 2020. Multiple climate factors indicate above-normal activity is most likely.
For more information, head to https://t.co/W1DX3W2iFA@NOAA pic.twitter.com/bsYRmzgRPp
— National Weather Service (@NWS) May 21, 2020
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