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Above-normal Atlantic basin hurricane season expected


The 2020 Atlantic basin hurricane season will have above-normal activity, Colorado State University’s Department of Atmospheric Science said in a report released Thursday.

“We anticipate an above-average probability for major hurricanes making landfall along the continental United States coastline and in the Caribbean,” the department said in its report.

Atmospheric conditions conducive to such activity include sea surface temperatures across the tropical Atlantic that are somewhat above normal or potentially even weak La Niña conditions by this summer/fall.

The forecast calls for 16 named storms, compared with the average of 12.1 named storms for the period 1981 to 2010, according to the report.

There will be 80 named storm days, compared with an average of 59.4, and 35 hurricane days, compared with the average of 24.2 days, the report said.

Eight hurricanes are forecast, more than the average 6.4, and four major hurricanes, compared with the average of 2.7, resulting in nine major hurricane days (6.2).

The probability of at least one major category 3,4 or 5 hurricane making landfall on the entire continental U.S. coastline is 69%, with the average for last century 52%, the report said.

The probability of at least on major category 3, 4 or 5 hurricane making landfall on the U.S. East Coast including Peninsular Florida is 45%, with the average for last century 31%. The probability of at least one major category 3, 4 or 5 hurricane making landfall on the Gulf Coast from the Florida Panhandle to Brownsville, Texas, is 44%, compared with the average for the  last century of 30%.

This is the 37th year in which the CSU Tropical Meteorology Project has made forecasts of the upcoming season’s Atlantic basin hurricane activity.  

The Atlantic basin has the largest year-to-year variability of any of the global tropical cyclone basins, and “everyone should realize that it is impossible to precisely predict this season’s hurricane activity in early April,” the report cautions

“One must remember that our forecasts are based on the premise that those global oceanic and atmospheric conditions which preceded comparatively active or inactive hurricane seasons in the past provide meaningful information about similar trends in future seasons,” CSU said, noting that “these seasonal forecasts are based on statistical and dynamical models which will fail in some years.”

The report also emphasizes the need for those potentially affected to remain vigilant in their preparedness

“Coastal residents are reminded that it only takes one hurricane making landfall to make it an active season for them, and they need to prepare the same for every season, regardless of how much activity is predicted,” CSU cautioned.