SOUTHEAST N.C. — The official start to the 2020 Atlantic Hurricane Season is June 1 and it appears that this year has no intention of letting up as forecasters are predicting a higher-than-average number of storms this season.
Each year several different forecasters including The Weather Company, Colorado State University, and Tropical Storm Risk (based out of the University College London) make their predictions for the upcoming hurricane season.
This year, experts all agree that the conditions are right for above-average tropical storms and hurricanes.
From 1981 — 2010, the average number of named storms in the Atlantic basin has been 13; last year there was a total of 18 named storms, four of which were category 3 or higher.
This year The Weather Company is predicting 18 named storms and Colorado State University and Tropical Storm Risk are calling for 16.
“The TSR (Tropical Storm Risk) April forecast update for North Atlantic hurricane activity in 2020 anticipates a season with likely above-norm activity. Based on current and projected climate signals, Atlantic basin tropical cyclone activity is forecast to be 25% above the 1950-2019 long-term norm and 5-10% above the recent 2010-2019 10-year norm. The forecast spans the period from 1st June to 30th November 2020 and employs data through to the end of March 2020,” according to TSR.
Forecasting is not an exact science and it is important to keep in mind that even just one storm could have a significant impact on homes, property, and lives.
The Weather Company also points out that just because they are predicting a higher-than-average season, it does not mean that any of the storms will directly impact the United States.
“There is no strong correlation between the number of storms or hurricanes and U.S. landfalls in any given season. One or more of the 18 named storms predicted to develop this season could hit the U.S. or none at all. That’s why residents of the coastal U.S. should prepare each year no matter the forecast,” according to the Weather Company.
The predicted active season can be attributed to warmer ocean temperatures as well as weak La Niña conditions.
“El Niño/La Niña, the periodic warming/cooling of the equatorial eastern and central Pacific Ocean, can shift weather patterns over a period of months. Its status is always one factor that’s considered in hurricane season forecasting,” according to the Weather Company.
The warmer ocean waters also play a role in how active a hurricane season will be, and water in the Atlantic is already heating up.
“Much of the Atlantic’s waters are already warmer than average as of mid-April. The Gulf of Mexico is also several degrees above average, given recent heat and the lack of rain over the Southeast. Taken as a whole, Atlantic Basin sea-surface temperatures are currently at record-warm levels, “supporting a big season,” Dr. Todd Crawford, chief meteorologist at The Weather Company said.
Hurricane Preparedness Week
Regardless of the prediction, living in a coastal region like the Cape Fear area means residents are at risk of being impacted by a hurricane, and being prepared is key.
This week is Hurricane Preparedness Week and the National Weather Service is offering tips for residents to prepare before any storms are even formed.
Some of these tips include:
- Know your zone: Do you live near the Gulf or Atlantic Coasts? Find out if you live in a hurricane evacuation area by contacting your local government/emergency management office or by checking the evacuation site website.
- Put together an emergency kit: Put together a basic emergency. Check emergency equipment, such as flashlights, generators and storm shutters.
- Write or review your family emergency plan: Before an emergency happens, sit down with your family or close friends and decide how you will get in contact with each other, where you will go, and what you will do in an emergency. Keep a copy of this plan in your emergency supplies kit or another safe place where you can access it in the event of a disaster. Start at the ready.gov emergency plan webpage.
- Review your insurance policies: Review your insurance policies to ensure that you have adequate coverage for your home and personal property.
- Understand NWS forecast products, especially the meaning of NWS watches and warnings.
- Preparation tips for your home from the Federal Alliance for Safe Homes
- Preparation tips for those with Chronic Illnesses