Why the 2020 Atlantic hurricane season is expected to have above-average activity

Reporter: Stephanie Byrne
Published: Updated:

This year’s hurricane season is currently predicted to be a more active season than average, but what factors go into that prediction?

Hurricanes Dorian, Irma, and Michael all make up a cautionary tale for when the right conditions mingle to form the perfect storm.

Dr. Joanne Muller is a paleoclimatologist at Florida Gulf Coast University and studies hurricanes and past climates.

She said, “Dorian intensified so quickly and that’s because sea surface temperatures around the Bahamas were so warm.”

Muller looks at sediment patterns to learn about storms dating back centuries.

We talked with her about Colorado State University’s prediction for a very active season with 16 named storms, eight of them being hurricanes, and four of those being major hurricanes.

2020 Colorado State hurricane season forecast.

Two of the key factors are; leaving an El Niño season, which means less wind shear, and warmer than average water surface temperatures.

“Winds that are moving in opposition to each other in the atmosphere and also moving at different speeds and because hurricanes develop vertically, they don’t like wind shear,” Muller explained. And right now, it’s 84 degrees right now off the coast of Naples. “Climate change. We have atmospheric warming and so this affects the ocean’s temperature.”

WINK News Chief Meteorologist Jim Farrell adds, “Our Gulf water temperatures are running warmer than average, but there are so many other factors that influence whether or not a tropical system can form and sustain itself.”

He says it doesn’t matter how many tropical systems form, however, “It matters where they go and we don’t have skill in forecasting where a hurricane will go until it forms.”

In the meantime, Muller hopes it’s not the season that they’re predicting. “I think with coronavirus right now, we have enough on our hands.”

All the more reason to plan ahead.

The Atlantic hurricane season runs June 1 to Nov. 30.

MORE: WINK News Hurricane Central

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