Meteorologists at commercial weather service AccuWeather are forecasting the fifth straight above-average Atlantic hurricane season, with a projection of 14 to 18 tropical storms between June 1 and November 30, seven to nine of which will become hurricanes, and two to four of which will strengthen to major hurricanes.
They also foresee two to four hurricane “impacts” for the coronavirus-ravaged United States, either “direct hits or a storm scraping the coast but still causing impacts,” said AccuWeather hurricane specialist Dan Kottlowski.
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“It’s going to be an above-normal season,” he added. “On a normal year, we have around 12 storms, six hurricanes and roughly three major hurricanes.”
As part of their predictions process, “forecasters have drawn comparisons to previous years with comparable weather conditions—also known as analog years,” AccuWeather explains. This year’s analogues are 1980, which produced one major Category 5 hurricane, and 2005, which Kottlowski cited as a particularly “hyperactive year”, with 28 storms.
Those hurricanes included Rita, Wilma, and Katrina, which “notoriously exploded into a monster Category 5 hurricane over the Gulf of Mexico before decimating portions of the Gulf Coast of the United States, killing 1,800 people and turning some neighborhoods like New Orleans’ Lower Ninth Ward into ghost towns that still haven’t been fully restored and repopulated 15 years later,” AccuWeather recalls.
As the 2020 season opens, “meteorologists will keep a watchful eye on parts of the Caribbean Sea and areas east of the Bahamas, where the water is already very warm,” the forecasting service adds. “Water temperatures in the Caribbean have already hit 80°F/26.7°C in late March,” meaning it isn’t too soon for residents to start getting their hurricane plans in place (while staying home and maintaining a suitable two-metre/six-foot distance).
“Warm water is actually what drives a lot of seasons, so those will be areas to keep an eye on for early-season development,” Kottlowski said. “This year, more than likely, we’ll get hit with one or two big storms, and we don’t know specifically where that is, so if you live near a coast or on an island, have a hurricane plan in place.”
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