Forecasters at the National Weather Service (NWS) expect the 2020 Atlantic hurricane season will bring above-normal activity.
According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), a division of NWS, the outlook predicts a 60 percent chance of an above-normal hurricane season.
“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,” said Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross in a release.
Weather forecasters expect that the unusually active season will bring between 6 and 10 hurricanes with winds above 74 mph, including between 3 and 6 major hurricanes. A major hurricane is defined as having winds of 111 mph or higher and carries classifications of category 3, 4, or 5.
There will probably be a total of between 13 and 19 named storms this season, defined as those with winds greater than 39 mph.
The chance that the hurricane season will be near normal is 30 percent, while predictions for a below-normal season stand at just 10 percent, NOAA said. The Atlantic hurricane season starts on June 1 and runs to Nov. 30.
NOAA warned that the need to be prepared for hurricanes “is critically important this year” as various COVID-19 containment measures may affect disaster planning.
“Social distancing and other CDC guidance to keep you safe from COVID-19 may impact the disaster preparedness plan you had in place, including what is in your go-kit, evacuation routes, shelters and more,” said Carlos Castillo, acting deputy administrator for resilience at FEMA.
“With tornado season at its peak, hurricane season around the corner, and flooding, earthquakes, and wildfires a risk year-round, it is time to revise and adjust your emergency plan now,” he added.
“Natural disasters won’t wait, so I encourage you to keep COVID-19 in mind when revising or making your plan for you and your loved ones, and don’t forget your pets,” Castillo noted.
Various climate factors are driving the strong likelihood for above-normal hurricane activity in the Atlantic this year, NOAA said. These include a high probability that there will not be an El Nino this year to suppress hurricanes, reduced vertical wind shear, weaker tropical trade winds, and a stronger west African monsoon.
“NOAA’s analysis of current and seasonal atmospheric conditions reveals a recipe for an active Atlantic hurricane season this year,” said Dr. Neil Jacobs, acting NOAA administrator. During a conference call, Jacobs said there’s a possibility this season ends up being “extremely active.”
To help with timely and accurate forecasts, NOAA and the U.S. Navy will deploy a fleet of autonomous diving hurricane gliders during the 2020 hurricane season to observe conditions in the tropical Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean Sea.
“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,” Ross said.