Every prediction for this year’s Atlantic hurricane season—and there are many of them—has been forecasting above normal activity, with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA’s) latest revision getting close to record territory.
There are several reasons for the unanimity, including slightly above normal ocean surface temperatures and a general lack of upper level winds that can tear storms apart.
In terms of the number of storms, with 11 so far, these forecasts have been spot-on, but they’ve largely been weenies. Only two became hurricanes, and neither of those could get out of Category 1, the weakest class status.
But each named storm, no matter how weak, goes in the record books. If the current frequency continues, it’s possible this season will run through the 20-letter alphabet of storm names. In fact, the top end of NOAA’s forecast is 25, and that’s quite feasible. Statistically speaking, hurricane activity peaks around September 12, almost a month away.
There are two more disturbances over the Atlantic that both have a good chance to develop into named storms later this week. European long-range models are pretty bullish on one that is rapidly approaching the Windward Islands, forecasting it to take a favorable track across the Caribbean with a turn to the Northwest that could—egad—put it in the Gulf of Mexico. Of course, there is also the chance that it will run the length of Hispaniola (the Dominican Republic and Haiti), where 10,.000-foot peaks are the great destroyers of strong storms.
There’s another cloud on the horizon, which is that the tropical Pacific is rapidly approaching La Nin᷉a conditions. That’s the cold phase of El Nin᷉o, and they are associated with further enhancing Atlantic hurricanes.
All of the hurricane influencers are lining up in a positive direction, and we aren’t even near the peak of the season. If things continue as they have been, 2020 will go down as a prolific producer of weenies, but the signs are that the times may be a-changing.