There’s a better-than-average chance that the 2020 Atlantic hurricane season will produce an above-average number of storms.
Forecasters with NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center released their projections on Thursday. They said there’s a 60% chance this will be an above-average season, and a 30% chance of an average season.
They put the odds of a quiet season at just 10%, and forecasters give these projections a 70% level of confidence.
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Forecasters said they expect between 13 and 19 named storms – not necessarily making landfall -- with winds of 39 mph or higher. Of these, six to 10 could become hurricanes, and three to six strengthening into major hurricanes of Category 3 or higher with winds at or above 111 mph.
An average hurricane season produces 12 named storms. Of those, six become hurricanes and three form into major hurricanes.
Although the official start of the 2020 hurricane season isn't until June 1, we have already had our first named storm. Tropical Storm Arthur formed last week, brushing the North Carolina coast and producing dangerous surf and rip currents before moving out to sea.
It was the sixth consecutive year a named storm formed before the official start of hurricane season.
U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross urged residents to heed the cautions, even with the nation still mired in the coronavirus pandemic.
“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,” Ross said in a statement. “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.”
Forecasters attribute the potentially heightened activity in part to warmer-than-average temperatures in the Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean Sea.
NOAA’s outlook is for overall seasonal activity and is not a landfall forecast.
NOAA will release updated outlook in August, prior to the season’s historical peak.
The hurricane season ends Nov. 30.