Wrapping Up The 2020 Atlantic Hurricane Season

Christina Talamo
Updated: December 03, 2020 01:12 PM
Created: December 02, 2020 02:46 PM

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This past Monday, November 30th, marked the official end to what was an eventful and record breaking 2020 Atlantic hurricane season. With 30 named storms, this season breaks the previous record for most named storms in a single season. This record was set back in 2005, with a season of 28 named storms. Of this year’s 30 storms, there were 13 hurricanes, 6 of which were major hurricanes at category 3 status or higher, and 12 storms made landfall in the United States. This makes the 2020 Atlantic hurricane season the season with the second highest number of hurricanes and most active season on record.

This hurricane season quickly used all 21 names on the 2020 Atlantic tropical cyclone names list, becoming only the second time in history that the Greek alphabet was needed to name further storms. With the average hurricane season in the Atlantic containing 12 named storms, 6 hurricanes, and 3 major hurricanes, this year marked the 5th year in a row with an above average hurricane season in the Atlantic.

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The Atlantic Multidecadal oscillation (AMO) is a series of changes in sea surface temperatures in the North Atlantic Ocean, that likely had an impact on the increased activity in this year’s Atlantic hurricane season. The AMO provides cool and warm phases within the ocean that could last nearly 20-40 years at a time. The last warm phase of the AMO began in 1995, with the warm phase continuing this year likely playing a part in the increased intensity and frequency of hurricane activity this season. A warm phase of the AMO can be linked to above average sea surface temperatures in the Atlantic, a stronger west African monsoon, and weak vertical wind shear off the coast of Africa.

All of these factors are favorable for tropical cyclone development and contribute to a more active hurricane season. According to Gerry Bell, Ph. D, the lead seasonal forecaster at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Climate Prediction Center (CPC), these factors along with La Nina conditions, contributed to this year’s historic and extremely active hurricane season.


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