NOAA Hurricane Predictions: Above-normal 2020 Season

Hurricane Dorian, September 2019. Hurricane Dorian, September 2019.

NOAA Hurricane Predictions: Above-normal 2020 Season Featured

By / Local News / Wednesday, 27 May 2020 17:06

By WILLARD KILLOUGH III
Managing Editor

NEW HANOVER CTY - The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Climate Prediction Center released their 2020 hurricane season outlook on May 21st. The prediction is for an above-normal Atlantic season with 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.

Hurricane season begins June 1st and runs through November 30th.

NOAA predicts "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.

Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross explained, "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," and "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."

According to the NOAA, 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.

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

As the hurricane season gets underway, NOAA will begin feeding data from the COSMIC-2 satellites into weather models to help track hurricane intensity and boost forecast accuracy. COSMIC-2 provides data about air temperature, pressure and humidity in the tropical regions of Earth — precisely where hurricane and tropical storm systems form.

Also during the 2020 hurricane season, NOAA and the U.S. Navy will deploy a fleet of autonomous diving hurricane gliders to observe conditions in the tropical Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean Sea in areas where hurricanes have historically traveled and intensified.

NOAA’s outlook is for overall seasonal activity and is not a landfall forecast. The Climate Prediction Center will update the 2020 Atlantic seasonal outlook in August prior to the historical peak of the season.

The list of storm names for 2020:
Arthur (Already occurred earlier this month.
Bertha; Cristobal; Dolly; Edouard; Fay; Gonzalo; Hanna; Isaias; Josephine; Kyle; Laura; Marco; Nana; Omar; Paulette; Rene; Sally; Teddy; Vicky; Wilfred.

COVID-19:

During hurricanes, most people are told to evacuate or stock up on supplies and stay at home. No help during a storm. First responders will not likely risk their lives during a storm when they've already told people to evacuate.

Keith Acree, Public Information Officer for North Carolina Emergency Management under NC Department of Public Safety explained on Tuesday, "The response to COVID-19 and a hurricane response would largely draw on different resources.  The COVID-19 response is focused on medical personnel and personal protective
equipment. A hurricane response typically draws on resources like search and rescue, sheltering and food/water. At the local level, counties that operate shelters are thinking about what sheltering would look like in a COVID-19 environment where social distancing needs to be observed. They are considering options that avoid congregate shelters with many people together in large open spaces like gyms."

Carolina Beach Town Manager Bruce Oakley explained, "We have had some informal "what if" conversations but have not started planning for the possibility yet. As we start prepping for hurricane season it will definitely be included in the planning and discussions. We will also work with our partners at the County and Kure to make sure we all are on the same page."

Kure Beach Councilman David Heglar - Emergency Manager for the Town - explained, "In a high level way - yes it is being considered.  As far as guidance or details - the town’s hurricane planning process starts in late April, for approval of any plan changes at the May/June meetings.  This issue has been highlighted to the County and State for their thoughts/inputs - but have not received any guidance at this time."

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