The record-breaking 2020 Atlantic Hurricane Season that produced 30 named storms officially comes to an end. This season surpassed the 28-storm record from 2005.
This year’s extremely active hurricane season started on June 1 and lasted until November 30. In the span of six months, a record 30 storms were named. Twelve of these made their landfall in the continental United States.
Thirteen storms during this season were classified as hurricanes, with top speed reaching 74 miles per hour. This is the second-highest on record, behind only the 15 recorded storms in 2005.
Moreover, six of these were determined to be major hurricanes with speeds exceeding 111 miles per hour. Storms raised on this status were Laura, Teddy, Delta, Epsilon, Eta, and Iota.
(Photo: Diego Cuevas, Getty Images) Highly-destructive hurricanes wreaked havoc on many communities, including the islands of San Andres, Providencia, and Santa Catalina.
Water levels in several locations also set new records. For example, the Gulf Coast witnessed how Hurricane Sally brought the highest observed water levels since Hurricane Katrina in 2005.
Many communities were left devastated during this destructive season. For instance, two sets of hurricanes struck at nearly the same places. Category 4 Hurricane Laura and Category 2 Delta created devastating results after hitting Louisiana in August and October.
Just recently, Hurricane Iota also wreaked havoc at nearly the same location Hurricane Eta had hit two weeks earlier. The storms forced thousands of people to evacuate due to flooding and mudslides.
READ: The 2020 Hurricane Season: What We’ve Seen and What’s to Come
This year marked the fifth consecutive year with an above-normal Atlantic hurricane season. It got off early and ramped up fast, with nine named storms between May and July alone. The first two named storms arrived in May, even before the season officially started.
An average Atlantic hurricane season produces 12 named storms, six hurricanes, and three major hurricanes. This year saw double these figures.
According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the increased activity is due to the warm phase of the Atlantic Multi-Decadal Oscillation (AMO), which began in 1995. La Niña also significantly contributed to the hurricane season’s extreme and destructive activities.
READ: Hurricane Iota Hits Nicaragua as Category 4 Storm
Increased Forecast Accuracy
NOAA has invested in research, forecast models, and computer technology to allow more accurate forecasts. This, in turn, results in the advanced lead time needed to ensure the readiness and responsiveness of decision-makers and communities.
NOAA recorded data using the Coastal Inundation Dashboard, a tool to observe real-time water levels during storms. They also used new instrumentation like the Ka-band Interferometric Altimeter to get wave height information.
Gerry Bell, the lead seasonal hurricane forecaster at the NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center, said that they correctly predicted the presence of an interrelated set of atmospheric and oceanic conditions linked to the warm AMO.
Bell added that the Atlantic sea surface temperatures that were warmer than the average, a stronger West African monsoon, and much weaker vertical wind shear and wind patterns coming off of Africa provide conditions favorable for storm development. Storms are also more intense because of higher sea levels, posing risks with storm surges.
Expect Other Weather Disturbances
Although the hurricane season has drawn to a close, meteorologists warned that additional storms may still develop. A subtropical depression or storm is likely to develop in the far northeast Atlantic this December.
Kerry Emmanuel, a professor of atmospheric sciences at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, said that with temperatures getting warmer and storms bringing more rain, storms could damage the future.
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