Hurricane season 2020 gets off to a record start
Just when you thought 2020 had given you enough to deal with in one year, along came hurricane season.
In fact, it didn’t wait around for the official start on June 1. Before that date, we’d already had two named storms in the Atlantic. Early storms aren’t in themselves an indication of a bad hurricane year, but experts were already calling for one anyway, even before the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration put out its forecast May 21.
NOAA makes it official
On that date, NOAA made it official:
An above-normal 2020 Atlantic hurricane season is expected, according to forecasters with NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center, a division of the National Weather Service. 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.
So we need to get ready.
Season gets a head start
As mentioned above, we’ve already had these events in May:
- On May 17, Tropical Storm Arthur hit North Carolina. The worst winds stayed offshore, but it still caused tropical-storm-force gusts at Cape Hatteras and waves as high as 12.5 feet off the Outer Banks. Some roads from the Outer Banks into the mainland were closed.
- The following week, Tropical Storm Bertha caused 8-10 inches of rain in Florida, then headed for South Carolina, where it caused flooding in Charleston, a drowning in Myrtle Beach, and minor power outages elsewhere in the state. It ended up causing a million dollars in damages in Virginia.
Then, as soon as the official season had begun, Tropical Storm Cristobal hit the Gulf Coast. This marks the first time in recorded history we’ve had three named storms this early.
Some reasons for an active season
Here are some of the factors the NOAA sees as conspiring to create an unusually active year:
- El Nino Southern Oscillation (ENSO) conditions are expected to either remain neutral or to trend toward La Nina. That means there will be no El Nino present to suppress hurricane activity.
- Warmer-than-average sea surface temperatures in the tropical Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean Sea.
- Reduced vertical wind shear, weaker tropical Atlantic trade winds, and an enhanced west African monsoon.
As always, the government stresses the need to be prepared.
“Natural disasters won’t wait, so I encourage you to keep COVID-19 in mind when revising or making your plan for you and your loved ones, and don’t forget your pets. An easy way to start is to download the FEMA app today,” said Carlos Castillo, acting deputy administrator for resilience at FEMA.
And of course, our professionals at South Risk Management stand ready to help you make sure your insurance coverage is in order.