Hurricane season is on its way, arriving in two months. As of this year, AccuWeather meteorologists have begun exploring factors that could influence tropical activity. The forecast predicts another active hurricane season.
Dan Kottlowski, AccuWeather's top hurricane expert, leads his team of meteorologists, releasing the 2020 Atlantic hurricane official forecast. The team expects 14-18 tropical storms to hit this season, starting in June and continuing on throughout November. Only 7-9 are prophesied to turn into hurricanes. Only 2-4 of the storms are expected to grow into major hurricanes.
"It's going to be an above-normal season," notes Kottlowski. "In a normal year, we have around 12 storms, six hurricanes, and roughly three major hurricanes.
Last year's hurricane season was the fourth year in a row of above-average activity in the basin and can be tied with only that of 1969 for the most active hurricane season to date. It makes sense to assume this year's season could lead to abnormally high rates of activity in the basin.
As a means of prediction, forecasters have linked previous years with similar weather activity. For 2020, AccuWeather meteorologists chose to research and examine the years 1980 and 2005.
In 1980, Hurricane Allen swept the streets, ravaging Haiti and lower Texas. In 2005, another quite "hyperactive year," Kottlowski notes, there were 28 storms, one of which we are quite familiar with.
Hurricane Katrina, a Category 5 hurricane over the Gulf of Mexico, devastated the city of New Orleans, particularly the Lower Ninth Ward, transforming it into an abandoned project which has yet to be rebuilt to its prior potential.
"There are a number of analog years we looked at that certainly show high-impact storms affecting the United States," Kottlowski explained. In 2020, the forecast shows that two to four impacts might be laying in wait for the country.
"These could be direct hits or a storm scraping the coast but still causing impacts," he said.
Meteorologists have been watching over regions of the Caribbean Sea and areas east of the Bahamas. According to data from a NOAA station, water temperatures reached 80 degrees Fahrenheit in the Caribbean in late March.
"Warm water is actually what drives a lot of seasons," Kottlowski notes. "So those will be areas to keep an eye on for early-season development." Despite hurricane season still being far away, Kottlowski and his team suggest residents who live near or on the coast to form their emergency plans now.
"Forecasts will give you an idea of how active it might be, but all it takes is one storm to make landfall in your area to cause serious and life-threatening problems," explains Kottlowski.
"Go back to last year with Dorian and Imelda," he further notes. "Those were two very, very high-impact storms. 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."
Kottlowski, having been a meteorologist for 43 years, has spent his life making predictions about hurricane season. His profound attentiveness to hurricane forecasting was born when he took multiple graduate courses on tropical weather during his studies at Purdue University.
Last April, Kottlowksi and his team forecasted there would be 12 to 14 storms in the 2019 Atlantic hurricane season. The forecast also expected five to seven hurricanes, six of which came to be. Further, the team said two to four of those storms would turn into major hurricanes, three of which did.
In times when a pandemic is massively disrupting life in unprecedented manners, hurricane season is sure to sneak upon us. For more information and all related tropical weather information, visit the AccuWeather Hurricane Center.