The 2020 Atlantic Tropical Storm Season is almost here, and we’ve already received updated forecasts about what we should expect. Tropical weather experts who include forecasters and researchers at the Colorado State University, the University of Arizona and the University College London have all released very similar updates which predict that there will be above-average activity for the 2020 season. Other updates by weather companies such as The Weather Channel, also agree with the general concensus of a busy season.
Colorado State University
The Colorado State University has forecast that there will be sixteen named storms, of which eight will reach hurricane status. It is also believed that four of these hurricanes will reach Categories 3,4 and 5 on the Saffir Simpson Scale. Additionally, there will be an increase in the number of storm days (80) and hurricane days (35).
The chances of a hurricane making landfall in the United States are a scary 95%. For the Caribbean it’s 89%. These staggering probabilities released by the Colorado State University provide some advanced notice for states along the U.S Gulf Coast, East Coast and Florida and the Caribbean islands. The prediction also shows that chances of tropical storms making landfall in the U.S and the Caribbean are 92% and 94% respectively.
These estimates were developed using 38 years of past data and statistical models for guidance. The Colorado State University will release additional forecasts on June 04, 2020; July 07, 2020 and August 06, 2020.
Arizona State University
The University of Arizona notes that the sea surface temperature (SST) in the Atlantic will be “one of the warmest since 1993”. This is one of the reasons why this year’s season will be more active. The university predicts that there will be nineteen (19) named storms; ten (10) hurricanes; five (5) major hurricanes; and one hundred and sixty-three (163) accumulated cyclone energy (ACE).
The university utilises a “Random Forest approach” which is “based on seasonal forecast data from the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF).” They will update their prediction in early June 2020.
University College of London (Tropical Storm Risk)
Tropical Storm Risk predicts that there will be sixteen (16) tropical storms, eight (8) hurricanes and three (3) intense hurricanes. Their research indicates that the United States will see four (4) tropical storms and two (2) hurricanes. This current forecast builds on the one issued in December 2019 and takes climate signals and environmental fields in consideration.
One of the main predictors that has informed TSR forecast is the effect of a weaker than normal trade wind. Estimates reveal that the trade wind over the Caribbean Sea and the North Atlantic will be at a height of 925mb. Weaker trade winds in the months from July to September usually result in increased hurricane frequency and intensity.
Tropical Storm Risk will release its next forecast on May 28, 2020.
The Weather Company
Dr. Todd Crawford, Chief Meteorologist at The Weather Company, says the 2020 season will be active, with a chance of being hyper-active. According to the company’s outlook for the 2020 Atlantic Tropical Storm Season, there will be eighteen (18) named storms; nine (9) hurricanes; and four (4) major hurricanes . This outlook is based on factors that range from sea surface temperatures, La Nina, computer model forecast guidance and previous hurricane seasons with similar patterns.
In addition to sea-surface temperatures which are of great concern, there has also been a lack of rain in the region and excessive heat in the early months of the year. These factors are all perfect ingredients for a “big season.”
Dan Kottlowski, one of AccuWeather’s top hurricane experts and his team have forecast that there will be 14-18 tropical storms in the 2020 Atlantic Tropical Storm Season. The team also predicted that between seven (7) and nine (9) of the storms will become hurricanes; and two (2) to four (4) of them will strengthen into major hurricanes. From very early in the season, because of the already warm temperatures in the Caribbean, the AccuWeather team will be focused on the Caribbean Sea .
Comparisons with previous years (also known as analog years) with similar weather conditions were used to formulate the forecast. Two years which spawned memorable hurricanes that were detrimental to people and property 1980 and 2005. The AccuWeather team is focusing on these years to gain further insight into what may come in 2020.
Mr. Kottlowski urged advanced hurricane planning even though the season is still a couple weeks away. He also made a poignant quote, which is a word for everyone living in the Atlantic:
“Forecasts will give you an idea of how active it might be, but all it takes is one storm to make landfall in your area to cause serious and life-threatening problems.”
References: 2020 Atlantic Tropical Storm Season Updates
Here is a list of the recent outlooks for the 2020 Atlantic tropical storm season:
- Hurricane Season Forecast to be Above Average (The Weather Channel)
- 2020 Atlantic Hurricane Season Expected to Be More Active Than Usual (The Weather Company)
- Forecast of An Active 2020 Hurricane Season over the North Atlantic (University of Arizona)
- Extended Range Forecast of Atlantic Seasonal Hurricane Activity and Landfall Strike Probability for 2020 (Colorado State University)
- AccuWeather’s 2020 Atlantic hurricane season forecast is out (AccuWeather)
- April Forecast Update for North Atlantic Hurricane Activity in 2020 (University College London – Tropical Storm Risk)