The U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has updated its prediction for this year’s North Atlantic hurricane season, saying it will be “extremely active,” possibly record breaking.
NOAA and its National Climate Prediction Center gave their initial seasonal predictions in May. But in its August update, issued late Thursday, forecasters say the 2020 season has already broken records, with nine storms through the end of July, five of them hitting the U.S. mainland. Historically, NOAA says only two named storms form by early August.
In a teleconference with reporters, NOAA’s lead hurricane forecaster, Jerry Bell, said they now see 19 to 25 named storms during the season ending November 30. Bell say seven to 11 of those are expected to become hurricanes and three to six could become major hurricanes. Those numbers include the nine storms already recorded this season.
Bell says oceanic and atmospheric conditions are now even more hospitable for hurricane formation and intensification than they saw in May, when they predicted 13 to 19 named storms. He said these conditions are predicted to continue for the next several months.
Bell does not believe 2020 will break the record for storms set in 2005, when there were 28 names storms as warmer oceans and other atmospheric conditions were more favorable.
But he believes 2020 will be one of the stronger seasons on record. NOAA reminded people in hurricane-prone regions to keep the COVID-19 pandemic in mind when making hurricane preparations, particularly if they are required to evacuate their area.