Expect an above-normal 2020 Atlantic hurricane season
Four major hurricanes predicted
Sixteen named storms, including eight hurricanes, are forecast for the 2020 Atlantic hurricane season, according to early predictions released Thursday by experts at Colorado State University, CNN reports.
Four of the hurricanes will become major storms of Category 3 to 5, with sustained winds of at least 111 mph, the projections indicate for the season that runs from June 1 to November 30.
The chance that at least one major hurricane will make landfall in 2020 along the US coastline is 69%, compared with an average over the last century of 52%, researchers said. There is a 95% chance -- the average is 84% -- that at least one hurricane this year will make landfall in the US.
"The last season with four or more major hurricanes was the record damage-causing year of 2017 that saw Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria," CNN meteorologist Brandon Miller said. "All caused significant damage in the US and Caribbean."
Six major hurricanes formed that year in the Atlantic basin. The seasonal average is 12 named storms, including six hurricanes.
The forecasts do not precisely predict where the storms might strike, and the probability of landfall for any single location is low.
"Coastal residents are reminded that it only takes one hurricane making landfall to make it an active season for them," researchers Philip Klotzbach, Michael M. Bell and Jhordanne Jones wrote in the report. Colorado State in its April predictions hasn't forecast four major hurricanes for a season since 2013 -- a year that didn't quite perform as the early forecast expected.
"I'd say that this year, we're pretty confident," Klotzbach said, citing a lack of El Niño conditions that can mess with expectations.
When El Niño is present, it reduces Atlantic hurricane activity due to increased vertical wind shear -- changes in wind speed and direction with height that prevent hurricanes from building.
Average conditions create a more favorable environment for tropical storm development.
The models are based on 40 years of data and conditions, including sea surface temperatures, sea level pressures, vertical wind shear levels and El Niño.
April is about the earliest experts can get a good indication of what conditions will be like during the hurricane season.
The names of the 2020 season are: