Meteorologists and research scientists at Colorado State University (CSU) released an update to their well-respected hurricane season outlook. Dr. Phil Klotzbach and the Tropical Meteorology Project at CSU were among the first to issue an outlook in April, with a previous update in early June. The season was forecast to be above average and is living up to that prediction. Arthur formed in mid-May before the season started. Bertha quickly formed and made landfall off the Carolina coast. Cristobal became the earliest “C” named storm in recorded history. Dolly and Edouard gratefully stayed in the open Atlantic with no impacts to land. Because of the five named Atlantic storms, CSU has now increased their number of storms forecast.
Their initial prediction had 16 named storms, updated in June 2020 to 19. The updated forecast has upped those numbers to 20 named storms, 9 of which becoming hurricanes and 4 of those becoming major hurricanes. These numbers include Arthur, Bertha, Cristobal, Dolly and Eduoard which have already formed this year.
Contributing factors into the 2020 Atlantic Tropical Outlook, courtesy CSU.
“One of the factors we are looking at for this year is that we do not anticipate El Niño conditions going on,” explains Dr. Phil Klotzbach, CSU Research Scientist.
An El Niño would mean warmer-than-normal water in the central and eastern [tropical] Pacific Ocean. That tends to create more wind shear to tear apart hurricanes in the Atlantic. Because El Niño is not expected to limit development, more hurricanes may form.
Another factor this year is warm water in the Atlantic Basin.
“Warmer-than-normal water temperatures [in the Atlantic] are associated with a more unstable atmosphere and also more moisture. The combination provides more fuel for the storms and that in turn tends to lead to more active hurricane seasons,” says Dr. Klotzbach.
Another reason for continued active Atlantic #hurricane seasonal forecast from CSU is due to very active West African monsoon. More robust easterly waves and more conducive upper-level winds for hurricanes in the tropical Atlantic are typically associated with active monsoon. pic.twitter.com/FSEbwjOBZl
— Philip Klotzbach (@philklotzbach) July 7, 2020
There are six previous hurricane seasons that compare to this season, according to the CSU report. Those [analog] years are 1966, 1995, 2003, 2008, 2011 and 2016.
“All of these years had above-average Atlantic hurricane activity and were generally characterized by cool neutral ENSO or LaNina conditions and warm tropical Atlantic.” explains Dr. Klotzbach.
This hurricane outlook covers the entire Atlantic basin from a standpoint of below or above average activity. However, it does not guarantee you will [or will not] experience a tropical cyclone.
“Regardless of the hurricane forecast, we can’t say when or where storms are going to strike. So you need to be prepared for any hurricane season because it just takes that one hurricane making landfall near where you live to make it an active season for you,” advises Dr. Klotzbach.
It is never too late to get your hurricane plan and kits ready. NOAA released their hurricane season outlook at the end of May. Not surprisingly, they also expect an above average season.