Forecasters accurately predicted extremely active hurricane season in 2020

30 named storms developed in the Atlantic, which was an all-time record

Forecasters accurately predicted extremely active hurricane season in 2020
There were 30 named storms in the 2020 Atlantic tropical storm and hurricane season, the most on record. (Source: NOAA)

RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - 2020 was a record breaking year for tropical storms and hurricanes in the Atlantic.

There were 30 named storms in the Atlantic basin, which was the most named storms on record, surpassing 2005. There were 13 hurricanes, six of which became major hurricanes in 2020.

“The 2020 Atlantic hurricane season ramped up quickly and broke records across the board,” said Neil Jacobs, Ph.D, acting NOAA administrator. “Our investments in research, forecast models, and computer technology allowed forecasters at the National Weather Service, and its National Hurricane Center, to issue forecasts with increasing accuracy, resulting in the advanced lead time needed to ensure that decision makers and communities were ready and responsive.”

It was an extremely active tropical storm and hurricane season in 2020.
It was an extremely active tropical storm and hurricane season in 2020. (Source: NOAA)

Forecasters at NOAA and here at NBC12 predicted back in March and April that this year would be particularly active for tropical systems, primarily because of warm Atlantic Ocean water temperatures and a La Nina weather pattern, which favors more storms in the Atlantic.

“As we correctly predicted, an interrelated set of atmospheric and oceanic conditions linked to the warm AMO were again present this year. These included warmer-than-average Atlantic sea surface temperatures and a stronger west African monsoon, along with much weaker vertical wind shear and wind patterns coming off of Africa that were more favorable for storm development. These conditions, combined with La Nina, helped make this record-breaking, extremely active hurricane season possible,” said Gerry Bell, Ph.D, lead seasonal hurricane forecaster at NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center.

If it seems as though we’ve had a lot of storms in recent years, it’s not your imagination. This is the fifth year in a row with above average tropical activity. These above average hurricane seasons are attributed to the warm phase of the Atlantic Multi-Decadal Oscillation, which began in 1995 and can last 25 to 40 years.

"This image from NOAA's GOES-16 satellite on September 14, 2020, shows five tropical systems spinning in the Atlantic basin at one time. From left to right: Hurricane Sally in the Gulf of Mexico, Hurricane Paulette east of the Carolinas, the remnants of Tropical Storm Rene in the central Atlantic, and Tropical Storms Teddy and Vicky in the eastern Atlantic. A total of 10 named storms formed in September 2020 — the most for any month on record." (NOAA)
"This image from NOAA's GOES-16 satellite on September 14, 2020, shows five tropical systems spinning in the Atlantic basin at one time. From left to right: Hurricane Sally in the Gulf of Mexico, Hurricane Paulette east of the Carolinas, the remnants of Tropical Storm Rene in the central Atlantic, and Tropical Storms Teddy and Vicky in the eastern Atlantic. A total of 10 named storms formed in September 2020 — the most for any month on record." (NOAA) (Source: NOAA)

There were 12 landfalling tropical storms and hurricanes in the United States this year. The tropical storm and hurricane season officially concludes on November 30, but tropical systems may continue to develop after that day.

The storm with the biggest impact in Virginia was Hurricane Isaias in early August, which brought gusty winds to the coast along with several strong tornadoes near the Chesapeake Bay.

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