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NOAA predicts above-normal Atlantic hurricane season for 2020

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Posted at 10:50 AM, May 21, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-21 11:50:15-04

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is predicting an above-normal 2020 Atlantic hurricane season.

According to forecasters with NOAA's Climate Prediction Center, 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 Atlantic hurricane season runs from June 1 through November 30.

NOAA's Climate Prediction Center is forecasting a likely range of 13 to 19 named storms (winds of 39 mph or higher), of which 6 to 10 could become hurricanes (winds of 74 mph or higher), including 3 to 6 major hurricanes (category 3, 4 or 5; with winds of 111 mph or higher). NOAA provides these ranges with a 70% confidence. An average hurricane season produces 12 named storms, of which 6 become hurricanes, including 3 major hurricanes.

"As Americans focus their attention on a safe and healthy reopening of our country, it remains critically important that we also remember to make the necessary preparations for the upcoming hurricane season," said Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross. "Just as in years past, NOAA experts will stay ahead of developing hurricanes and tropical storms and provide the forecasts and warnings we depend on to stay safe."

NOAA says that the combination of several climate factors is driving the strong likelihood for above-normal activity in the Atlantic this year.

El Nino Southern Oscillation (ENSO) conditions are expected to either remain neutral or to trend toward La Nina, meaning there will not be an El Nino present to suppress hurricane activity. Also, warmer-than-average sea surface temperatures in the tropical Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean Sea, coupled with reduced vertical wind shear, weaker tropical Atlantic trade winds, and an enhanced west African monsoon all increase the likelihood for an above-normal Atlantic hurricane season.

Similar conditions have been producing more active seasons since the current high-activity era began in 1995.

"NOAA's analysis of current and seasonal atmospheric conditions reveals a recipe for an active Atlantic hurricane season this year," said Neil Jacobs, Ph.D., acting NOAA administrator. "Our skilled forecasters, coupled with upgrades to our computer models and observing technologies, will provide accurate and timely forecasts to protect life and property."

NOAA's outlook is for overall seasonal activity and is not a landfall forecast, a release states.. The Climate Prediction Center will update the 2020 Atlantic seasonal outlook in August prior to the historical peak of the season. See their full report here.

A look at names for storms this season are below. The first storm on the list, Arthur, formed on May 16th in the Atlantic. read more here

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