Colorado State University revised its seasonal hurricane forecast Wednesday, upping the number of named storms to 24 and calling for five major hurricanes of Cat 3 or stronger.
The new forecast, which is updated each August ahead of the peak of hurricane season, includes the nine named storms that have already come and gone, and considers the much warmer than normal sea surface temperatures across the tropical Atlantic.
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An average storm season has 12 named storms, including six hurricanes and three major hurricanes of Category 3 or higher.
Lead author CSU meteorologist and researcher Phil Klotzbach said sea surface temperatures in the tropical Atlantic are the 4th warmest on record, trailing 2005, 2007, 2020 and 2017.
“Warmer water means more fuel for storms, also typically more atmospheric instability,” Klotzbach said.
CSU has chosen six analogs for its August seasonal #hurricane forecast: 1966, 1995, 2003, 2005, 2010 & 2017. All of these years had well above-average Atlantic hurricane activity & were generally characterized by cool neutral ENSO or #LaNina conditions and warm tropical Atlantic. pic.twitter.com/K2Yzy413xP
— Philip Klotzbach (@philklotzbach) August 5, 2020
CSU’s update builds on its April forecast that predicted 16 named storms, eight hurricanes and four major hurricanes.
But in April, it was unclear what the El Niño-Southern Oscillation, or ENSO, would be doing closer to the peak of hurricane season.
Last month, the Climate Prediction Center put the world on a La Niña watch, meaning the chances that the cyclone-friendly climate pattern would appear early this fall are increasing.
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For Florida, the periodic cooling of the eastern Pacific Ocean can mean a more energetic season, and if the La Niña watch holds true, it will coincide with the beastly Cabo Verde storms that tumble off the coast of Africa on a liquid runway to the Caribbean.
Hurricane season cranks into high gear around mid-August for the Atlantic basin and runs hot through late October with the pinnacle reached Sept. 10.
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Already, nine named storms have formed, beginning with Arthur in May and ending with the most recent Isaias. Two hurricanes – Hanna and Isaias – made landfall in the U.S.
That makes the 2020 Atlantic hurricane season only the 8th on record since 1851 with two or more continental U.S. landfalling hurricanes by Aug. 3, according to Klotzbach.
Through Tuesday, this year’s accumulated cyclone energy, or ACE, was 288 percent of normal. ACE is a measure of the duration and strength of tropical systems.