Palm trees blowing in the wind next to the ocean during a tropical storm

2020 Hurricane Season

The 2020 hurricane season is officially over! November 30 marked the end of a record-breaking Atlantic hurricane season with 30 named storms. Back in May, NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center predicted an above average season, forecasting 13 to 19 named storms, of which 6 to 10 would become hurricanes, and 3 to 6 of these would intensify into major hurricanes (max sustained winds of > 110 mph). So, how did this season compare?

The statistics for the 2020 hurricane season

NOAA’s forecast was not far off, and storms can continue to develop.  An average Atlantic Basin hurricane season consists of 12 named tropical systems, of which 6 develop into hurricanes, and 3 of the 6 become major hurricanes. This year’s season more than doubled the average for named tropical systems and hurricanes. This season’s strongest landfalling U.S. hurricane, Hurricane Laura, packed sustained winds of 150 mph, and hit Louisiana as a category 4 storm in August. Not long after, five named tropical systems were active in the Atlantic on September 14 – Paulette, Rene, Sally, Teddy and Vicky — the last time this happened was in 1971.

We also ran through the entire list of names and had to start using the Greek alphabet to name storms for the first time since 2005, and for the second time ever. Some of these late season storms were quite powerful, especially Eta and Iota, which both made landfall in Nicaragua as category 4 hurricanes. Normally, these names would be retired, due to the extensive damage they caused. As of now, the World Meteorological Organization has indicated that they will not retire any Greek letters but will instead consider retiring the letter with the year that storm occurred in (ex. Iota 2020).  As we go into the offseason, I am sure there will be many discussions amongst professional meteorologists as to the best possible naming structure to avoid this dilemma in the future. One thing is for sure, the 2020 hurricane season has left its mark in the history books.

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