Colorado State University forecast calls for ‘active’ Atlantic hurricane season

Colorado State University forecast calls for ‘active’ Atlantic hurricane season
2020 Atlantic Hurricane Season Outlook (Source: WAFB)

BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - It’s April, and now begins the flurry of preseason projections for the 2020 Atlantic Hurricane Season... as if COVID-19 and the high water along the Mississippi River aren’t enough to stress you?

The Colorado State University (CSU) team, led by Dr. Phil Klotzbach, posted their extra early seasonal forecast Thursday, April 2, and to no one’s surprise, the CSU team is expecting an active Atlantic season with above normal storm numbers and an increased threat for the United States.

Two key reasons for their above normal projections deal with:

  1. The expected phase of ENSO (El Niño/Southern Oscillation) during the summer and fall
  2. The outlook for sea surface temperatures (SSTs) across the Atlantic Basin during the hurricane season
Model predictions of ENSO from March of 2020
Model predictions of ENSO from March of 2020 (Source: WAFB)

Most computer model projections for ENSO call for either a continuation of neutral conditions (neither El Niño nor La Niña phases) or possibly a modest shift towards the La Niña phase. Only the El Niño phase is routinely linked to reduced tropical activity in the Atlantic, so ENSO is assumed to be a non-factor. At the same time, SSTs across virtually the entire tropical and sub-tropical Atlantic, including the Caribbean and the Gulf, are running warmer than normal. Many experts think the SSTs will remain warmer than normal for most or all of hurricane season.

Another more nebulous factor, but one that can’t be ignored, is the recent trend for above normal seasons in the basin, dating back to the 1990s.

Tropical tidbits
Tropical tidbits (Source: WAFB)

By the way, the CSU team also notes a significantly higher than normal threat for a major hurricane to make landfall somewhere along the U.S. Gulf Coast this season.

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