Updated: August 14, 2020 12:05 PM
Created: August 14, 2020 11:45 AM
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Climate Prediction Center issues two different Atlantic Hurricane Season Outlooks per year. Hurricane season starts on June 1st and runs through November 30th. NOAA’s first outlook is issued in May before the hurricane season starts. This outlook is then updated in the beginning of August ahead of the historical peak of hurricane season.
NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center (CPC) is forecasting for an extremely active year. They are forecasting a range of 19 – 25 named storms (winds of 39 mph or higher), with 7 – 11 becoming hurricanes (winds 74 mph or greater), and 3 - 6 of them becoming major hurricanes (category 3, 4, 5; with winds of 111 mph or higher). When we compared this season outlook to the one that they provided in May, the total number of storms, hurricanes and major hurricanes has increased.
There are three main factors that NOAA’s CPC looks at when making these forecasts. There is a 50% chance of La Niña occurring and a near zero chance for El Niño to occur. La Niña provides ideal conditions for storms to form in the Atlantic Ocean because they create areas of weak wind shear. (To learn more about what is needed for hurricane formations, click here!) Another factor that they consider is the sea surface temperatures, which for this time, are well above normal. Lastly, the enhanced west African monsoon and weak Atlantic tropical trade winds will allow for ideal conditions to form these areas of development off the coast of west Africa. The areas of development move off the coast of west Africa and into ideal conditions over the Atlantic, where they form into tropical storms and/or hurricanes.
It is important to remember that this outlook is not a landfall forecast, but rather a forecast on the seasonal activity. The landfall of each storm is forecasted in short-term weather forecasts. The earliest forecast ahead of a potential landfall is about a week. Since the start of the Atlantic Hurricane season, we have already had 10 named storms (as of 8/14/2020) and three of them (Tropical Storm Arthur, Tropical Storm Dolly, Tropical Storm Edouard) did not make landfall.
So what does this mean for you? It means to be prepared. Not all locations are affected by hurricanes and tropical storms, but historically these storms can affect anywhere on the east coast. The five most vulnerable states to hurricanes are Florida, Texas, Louisiana, North Carolina and South Carolina. The graphic above shows the amount of hurricanes each state has been hit with (category 1 or higher) since hurricane records were started in 1851. Knowing your risk and being prepared are two good ways to stay safe during the hurricane season. Always turn to your local meteorologists for your local forecast.
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