An above-normal 2020 Atlantic hurricane season is expected, according to forecasters with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Climate Prediction Center, a division of the National Weather Service. An above-average Atlantic hurricane season was also predicted more than a month earlier by both Colorado State University (CSU) hurricane researchers and AccuWeather. See those predictions.
The NOAA outlook predicts a 60 percent chance of an above-normal season, a 30 percent chance of a near-normal season and only a 10 percent chance of a below-normal season. The Atlantic hurricane season runs from June 1 through November 30.
The Climate Prediction Center is forecasting a likely range of 13 to 19 named storms (winds of 39 miles per hour or higher), of which six to 10 could become hurricanes (winds of 74 miles per hour or higher). Those projected storms include three to six major hurricanes (category 3, 4 or 5; with winds of 111 miles per hour or higher). NOAA provides these ranges with 70 percent confidence. 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 Niño Southern Oscillation conditions are expected to either remain neutral or to trend toward La Niña, meaning there will not be an El Niño 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.
The Climate Prediction Center will update the 2020 Atlantic seasonal outlook in August prior to the historical peak of the season. Visit the National Hurricane Center’s website throughout the season to stay current on any hurricane watches and warnings.