Forecasters at NOAA's Climate Prediction Center are suggesting an active hurricane season may be ahead of us in 2020. The agency's outlook issued Thursday predicts a 60% chance of above normal tropical activity, a 30% chance at a near normal season, and just a 10% chance that the season fails to live up to historical averages.
The outlook issued Thursday forecasts between 13 and 19 named systems producing winds of 39 miles per hour or greater. Of those 13 to 19 storms, 6 to 10 of them would become hurricanes, and 3 to 6 reaching major hurricane (Category 3 or higher) status. An average hurricane season produces 12 named systems, about half of them becoming hurricanes, and three major hurricanes.
Scientists cite several factors driving the increased likelihood for an active Atlantic hurricane season. In contrast to last year, where a developing El Nino helped to suppress hurricane activity, a weak La Nina may be in the process of developing. Usually, this corresponds to increased tropical activity. Secondly, water temperatures in the Atlantic and the Caribbean Sea are running warmer than average, and in some spots by a rather wide margin. This, along with reduced wind shear and weaker Atlantic trade winds also contribute to the increased likelihood for tropical activity this summer.
There has already been one named storm this year. Tropical Storm Arthur, which, coincidentally has helped keep cloud cover in place here for the past several days, formed last weekend off the east coast and drifted aimlessly over the Atlantic Ocean before dissipating a few days ago. The next named storm will be Tropical Storm Bertha.