'Extremely Active': Meteorologists Release New Hurricane Season Forecast
The 2020 Atlantic hurricane season is gaining momentum at a breakneck pace. To date, it is ahead of the record pace by about two weeks, and only a third has been passed. On Wednesday, August 5, the news became even more alarming as a research team from Colorado State University (CSU) released the worst forecast in its 37-year history. Writes about it CBS News.
Calling the 2020 hurricane season “extremely active,” the Colorado team is forecasting 24 hurricanes (including those that have already passed). According to scientists, Americans will face 12 regular hurricanes and 5 major ones - each figure is about double the number of hurricanes with normal activity. If forecast is accurate, 2020 will be the second most active hurricane season in the Atlantic, just behind the record-breaking 2005 season of Hurricanes Katrina and Wilma.
Only 21 storms are named each year because the letters Q, U, X, Y and Z are not used. But if 24 tropical storms are indeed named, then the National Hurricane Center should have used the Greek alphabet. Before, this happened only once in the entire history of observations - in 2005, when 28 storms formed in the Atlantic Ocean.
In addition, CSU predicts a 75% chance of a major hurricane (Category 3 or higher) hitting the U.S. coast during the 2020 season. This is important because the damage dealt increases exponentially with wind speed. Category 3, 4 and 5 hurricanes cause 85% of all disaster damage.
Dr Phil Klotzbach, lead forecaster for the CSU team, believes that as the 2020 season is already at a record pace and conditions remain favorable for activity, the forecast is not particularly unrealistic.
“To be honest, forecasting 15 more named storms is not such a big deal,” he said. “On average, there were 1995 additional named storms per season in the active epoch (2019-5) after August 12.”
The last named tropical storm, Isaiah, was the fifth storm to hit the shore this season. This is about two weeks earlier than the usual rate.
The most obvious contributing factor to such an active season is the near-historic water temperature in the Atlantic, which can act as hurricane fuel.
Water becomes hotter than usual due to a warmer phase in the natural cycle called the Atlantic Multi-Decade Oscillation (AMO), which is exacerbated by human-induced climate change. Warming has led to an increase in sea surface temperatures in the tropical Atlantic by about two degrees Fahrenheit (about 1 degree Celsius) since 1901.
In addition to rising water temperatures, Webb, who specializes in tropical weather, says rainfall in Africa, where most tropical storms form, is much higher than normal.
“The Sahel region of Africa (between the Congo rainforest in the south and the Sahara desert in the north) received a lot of rainfall this summer. The wetter African Sahel means that the waves that create up to 90% of the strongest hurricanes in the Atlantic are stronger, ”explains the specialist.
While warm water and humid African Sahel would be enough for the active season, there are even more factors in the current one tipping the scales towards anomalies.
In July, atmospheric pressure in the tropical Atlantic was at a record low. Low pressure areas go hand in hand with rising air. This rising air is essential for thunderstorms, which are the basis for tropical storms.
Along with the rising air, wind shear, which tends to rip hurricanes apart, killing them, hit an all-time low this summer.
El Niño is one factor that can lead to severe wind shear in the Atlantic Basin. But this summer El Niño is not only absent - the opposite can occur: La Niña. The cooler-than-normal waters of the tropical Pacific Ocean at La Niña cause light winds in the Atlantic Ocean, ideal for the active hurricane season.
All the evidence suggests that hurricanes will come quickly and be very strong.
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