Forecasters Predict Above Average Hurricane Season for 2020
FT. COLLINS, Colo.—April 14, 2020—Forecasters from Colorado State University recently released their first forecast for the 2020 hurricane season, predicting above average Atlantic hurricane activity this year. According to USA Today, the forecast also anticipates an “above-average probability for major hurricanes making landfall along the continental United States.”
Specifically, forecasters expect the 2020 hurricane season, which officially begins on June 1, will produce 16 named storms, eight of which will become hurricanes with four of those becoming major hurricanes of Category 3 or higher (sustained wind speeds of 111 mph or greater). There is a 69% chance that at least one major hurricane will strike the U.S., according to USA Today. An average season sees 12 named storms, six of which become hurricanes.
An active season is expected due to unusually warm water in the Atlantic and the likely absence of an El Niño climate pattern in the Pacific. In El Niño years, the water in the Pacific is warmer, producing strong vertical wind shear in the Atlantic which suppresses the development of Atlantic storms.
AccuWeather forecasters also released their predictions, agreeing that 2020 will be an active year. AccuWeather’s team anticipates 14-18 named storms and 7-9 hurricanes, expecting 2-4 of these to strike the U.S., according to USA Today.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) will release a 2020 hurricane forecast in May, and the Colorado State team will update its forecast three times as we approach the peak of the season.
In addition to the above average activity, 2020 promises to be an unprecedented hurricane season as it coincides with the COVID-19 pandemic. Public health experts have no firm answers about when infection rates around the country will peak and subside, and recent projections anticipate a secondary peak after social distancing measures are lifted. According to The New York Times, this peak may come in mid- to late summer, just as the peak of hurricane season arrives. Additionally, in an interview with CNN, Dr. Anthony Fauci warned that another wave of infections could hit in the fall with the start of cold and flu season.
No matter how the outbreak unfolds in the coming months, it seems likely that we will still be facing the threat of infection throughout the 2020 hurricane season, which complicates everything from storm preparation to evacuation and recovery. Many of the supplies residents need to stock up on during hurricane season are already difficult to find. It will be nearly impossible to maintain social distancing through evacuation protocols and in hurricane shelters, so if the virus is still circulating, a hurricane will almost certainly exacerbate its spread. For restoration professionals it may be wise to review biohazard and PPE protocols as you prepare for the 2020 season. Be sure to check out the ISSA COVID-19 resource page, www.issa.com/coronavirus, where you can access all of GBAC’s coronavirus tip sheets and other current information about COVID-19.