Forecasters give first look into the 2020 hurricane season. ‘Above average,’ they say

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The 2020 hurricane season will be busier than normal, with 16 named storms predicted, eight turning into hurricanes and four growing into major hurricanes, according to scientists at Colorado State University.

That’s three more named storms and hurricanes and two more major hurricanes than the team predicted at this time last year.

The Colorado school’s Department of Atmospheric Science, led by meteorologist Phil Klotzbach, made its announcement Thursday morning.

The reason Colorado State researchers predict an above average 2020 season — at this early date — is due to a “likely lack of El Niño later this summer and into the fall months, said Klotzbach on a Twitter post

September and October are generally the busiest time of the hurricane season.

“El Niño generally increases vertical wind shear in the Atlantic, tearing apart hurricanes,” he said.

Last April, the Colorado group predicted that El Niño was forecast to develop in the summer in the Atlantic, and that it could help suppress some storms’ growth.

HOW WELL DID COLORADO STATE PREDICT LAST YEAR?

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the 2019 Atlantic hurricane season produced 18 named storms and 20 total depressions, including six hurricanes, of which three were considered “major” (Category 3, 4 or 5). These included Hurricanes Dorian, Humberto and Lorenzo.

The Colorado State researchers’ forecast “has modest long-term skill when evaluated in hindcast mode,” Klotzbach and his team wrote on the report. “The skill of CSU’s forecast updates increases as the peak of the Atlantic hurricane season approaches.”

MAJOR HURRICANE PROBABILITIES ON COASTS

The probabilities for at least one major Cat 3, 4 or 5 hurricane making landfall in the United States are:

▪ Entire continental U.S. coastline: 69%. The average for the last century is 52%.

▪ U.S. East Coast including Peninsula Florida: 45%. The average for the last century is 31%.

▪ Gulf Coast from the Florida Panhandle westward to Brownsville: 44%. The average for the last century is 30%.

The probability for at least one major Cat 3, 4 or 5 tracking into the Caribbean is 58%. The average for the last century is 42%.

HOW THE FORECAST WAS MADE

This forecast is based on a new extended-range early April statistical prediction scheme that was developed using 38 years of past data, Colorado State University said.

“As is the case with all hurricane seasons, coastal residents are reminded that it only takes one hurricane making landfall to make it an active season for them. They should prepare the same for every season, regardless of how much activity is predicted.”

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