Updated forecast calls for ‘extremely active’ hurricane season

Weather experts predicting ‘extremely active’ hurricane season in revised forecast

BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - The team of forecasters led by Dr. Phil Klotzbach and based at Colordado State University released their updated projections for the remainder of the 2020 Atlantic hurricane season Wednesday, Aug. 5... and the news is not what any of us wants to hear. The team is forecasting an “extremely active” hurricane season in a year that has already been off to a record-setting start.

The updated forecast now calls for a total of 24 named storms, 12 hurricanes, and five major (Category 3 to 5) hurricanes. These numbers include the nine named storms and two hurricanes (Hanna, Isaias) that have already developed this summer. To put that in perspective, 24 named storms would be the second most on record since 1850, only surpassed by the 28 named systems that formed in 2005.

Tracks of tropical storms and hurricanes during the record-setting 2005 Atlantic hurricane season
Tracks of tropical storms and hurricanes during the record-setting 2005 Atlantic hurricane season (Source: National Hurricane Center)

Another question that’s sure to get asked: What happens if we go through all 21 tropical cyclone names on the list for 2020? The answer is that we would move on to the Greek alphabet, something that also only happened in 2005. Names like Alpha, Beta, and Gamma would be up next if we blew through the 2020 list, which ends with Wilfred.

Above are the storm names for the 2020 Atlantic hurricane season. Names in gold have already been used. If the entire list were to get used, the Greek alphabet would be used next.
Above are the storm names for the 2020 Atlantic hurricane season. Names in gold have already been used. If the entire list were to get used, the Greek alphabet would be used next. (Source: WAFB)

The forecast for what some might call a hyperactive season is driven by water temperatures in the Atlantic running much warmer than normal, wind shear (a negative for tropical cyclones) running much lower than normal, and the likelihood that temperatures in the east-central equatorial Pacific will remain below normal. All three factors support development in the Atlantic.

However, as the old adage goes, “it only takes one”. For example, the years 1965 and 1992 were quiet overall in the Atlantic, but produced major impacts in Louisiana with Betsy (1965) and Andrew (1992). Dr. Klotzbach and his team estimate a 48% chance of a major (Category 3 to 5) hurricane impacting the Gulf Coast, with the historical average being around 30% in any given year.

Let this forecast be a good reminder that we have yet to reach the peak of hurricane season and nearly half of Louisiana's impacts come in the month of September. Make sure you have your hurricane plan in place and keep up with the latest in our First Alert Hurricane Center.

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