2020 Hurricane Season Projections: What does this all mean?

Published: May. 1, 2020 at 6:30 PM EDT
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Some 2020 Hurricane Season projections are now out. What does this all mean?

On May 21, NOAA released it's hurricane outlook.

"An above-normal 2020 Atlantic hurricane season is expected, according to forecasters with NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center, a division of the National Weather Service.

The outlook predicts a 60% chance of an above-normal season, a 30% chance of a near-normal season and only a 10% chance of a below-normal season."

The reason for the above average forecast is a combination of reasons. There is a lack of an El Nino pattern. During an El Nino that can lead to an increase in wind shear and suppress tropical and hurricane activity.

There are also warmer than average sea surface temperatures in the Tropical Atlantic and the Caribbean sea.

With more named storms in the forecast, that does increase chances to see a significant hurricane to hit the US. It's important to remember that this is a forecast for storm formation, not for landfall. In fact we can't predict where a storm will make landfall until after one forms and the overall atmospheric weather pattern is evaluated.

It's very possible to have a very active hurricane season, with little to no major landfall impacts. It's also possible to have an incredibly inactive hurricane season with a major hurricane creating devastating impacts. The key with hurricanes or tropical storms, is that it only takes one storm.

When looking at an active hurricane season though, it is all about impacts.

Let's look at 1992. In 1992 there were 7 named storms, 4 hurricanes, and 1 major hurricane. That's just below average for named storms (average is 10 per season). Remember, it only takes one storm.

The 1 major hurricane created a major disaster known as Hurricane Andrew. Hurricane Andrew is one of the few category 5 hurricanes that have ever made landfall in the US and caused $27.3 billion in damage.

In 2001 there were 15 named storms (well above the average of 10), 9 hurricanes and 4 major hurricanes.

However the strongest and most devastating storm was Tropical storm Alison which produced more than 35" of rainfall in Texas which killed 41 people.

An active hurricane season does increase the chances for impacts but you only need one hurricane to make a hurricane season devastating.

Hurricane season is June 1 through November 30 but the peak of the season is late August through early October.

You can read the full release from NOAA by clicking


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