NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center 2020 Atlantic Hurricane Season Outlook forecasts a 60 percent chance of an above-normal season, a 30 percent chance of a near-normal season, and only a 10 percent chance of a below-normal season, which extends from June 1 to 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 (Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale Categories 3, 4, or 5; with winds of 111 mph or higher).
An average hurricane season produces 12 named storms, of which 6 become hurricanes, including 3 major hurricanes.
The 2020 Atlantic Hurricane Season is already off to a busy start. On June 2, 2020, Tropical Storm Cristobal broke the record for the earliest third-named tropical storm in the history of the Atlantic Hurricane Basin.
The combination of several climate factors is driving the strong likelihood for above-normal activity in the Atlantic this year, NOAA says.
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 the 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.
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.