June 1st marks the beginning of the Atlantic Hurricane Season, and it extends until November 30th. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, an above-normal hurricane season is expected for 2020. According to forecasters with NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center, a division of the National Weather Service, there is a 60% chance of an above-normal season, a 30% chance of a near-normal season, and a 10% chance of a below-normal season.
They are predicting a likely range of 13-19 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). In comparison, an average hurricane season produces 12 named storms, of which 6 become hurricanes, including 3 major storms. Furthermore, the combination of several climate factors is driving a strong likelihood of above-normal activity in the Atlantic.
El Nino Southern Oscillation (ENSO) conditions are expected to either remain neutral or trend toward La Nina. Warmer than average sea surface temperatures are also expected in the tropical Atlantic Ocean and the Caribbean Sea. These warm sea surface temperatures combined with reduced vertical wind shear, weaker tropical Atlantic trade winds, and an enhanced wet African monsoon all increase the likelihood for an above-normal Atlantic hurricane season.
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