MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - Researchers from Colorado State University issued an update to the 2020 hurricane season forecast and now indicate it will be one of the most active on record.
The new forecast predicts an extremely active Atlantic hurricane season in 2020, citing very warm sea surface temperatures and very low wind shear in the tropical Atlantic as primary factors.
Water temperatures over the past month are at their fourth-highest levels since 1982, trailing only the very active Atlantic hurricane seasons of 2005, 2010 and 2017. The warmer than normal water temperatures provide more fuel for hurricane formation and intensification. They are also associated with a more unstable atmosphere as well as more humid air, both of which favor organized thunderstorms that are necessary for hurricane development.
Wind shear through July was also extremely weak across the Atlantic and Caribbean. Wind shear tears apart hurricanes as they are trying to develop and intensify. When wind shear is low in July, it also tends to be low during the peak of the Atlantic hurricane season from August-October.
The Colorado State research team is now predicting 24 named storms, including the nine named storms that have already formed (Arthur, Bertha, Cristobal, Dolly, Edouard, Fay, Gonzalo, Hanna and Isaias).
Of those, the researchers expect 12 to become hurricanes (including the two that have already formed, Hanna and Isaias) and five to reach major hurricane strength - category 3 or higher. Twelve hurricanes is the most the team has ever predicted in their August forecast. This is an increase from the early July forecast which predicted 20 named storms, nine hurricanes and four major hurricanes.
So far, the 2020 hurricane season is exhibiting characteristics similar to 1966, 1995, 2003, 2005, 2010 and 2017. “All of these seasons were very active in the Atlantic basin, with several (most notably 1995, 2005 and 2017) being extremely active,” said Phil Klotzbach, research scientist in the CSU Department of Atmospheric Science and lead author of the report. This is the 37th year the researchers have released a hurricane season forecast.
If the new 2020 season forecast verifies, all of the names on the list will be used. In that case hurricanes will be given the names of the Greek alphabet.