LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – Forecasters at Colorado State University’s Department of Atmospheric Sciences have released an updated forecast regarding tropical activity for the 2020 Atlantic Hurricane Season.
In the August 5, 2020 forecast, the forecasters are now calling for 24 named storms, 12 hurricanes and five major hurricanes.
The reasoning behind an extremely active forecast for the season is due to above normal sea surface temperatures across the Atlantic as well as lower than normal wind shear. Tropical waves thrive off of warm ocean waters and require weak wind shear to escalate development.
The department also notes potential for a weak La Niña forecast later this summer in the Pacific Basin.
During a La Niña weather pattern, strong winds blow warm water at the surface from South America to Indonesia. As the warm water moves west, cold water from deep int he ocean rises to the surface in the eastern realm of the Pacific Ocean.
According to the National Weather Service, this results in weaker westerly winds high in the atmosphere. Low vertical wind shear in the Atlantic Basin helps with tropical development, making the environment for more susceptible to tropical storm and hurricane formation.
In April, the department first released its original forecast, calling for above average tropical activity. In the original forecast, they forecasted 16 named storms, 8 hurricanes and 4 major hurricanes. Total tropical activity in the Atlantic Basic was forecast to be about 40% above average.
An average year has 12 named storms, six hurricanes and three major hurricanes. A major hurricane is category three or higher with winds greater than 111 mph. .
It should be noted that the number of storms doesn’t necessarily translate to how “bad” the hurricane season is. A hurricane season can be be bad if there are few storms, but one major hurricane hits land, likewise a busy season isn’t necessarily bad if the stronger storms stay out to sea.