Seaside destruction in St. Thomas during Hurricane Irma in 2017
The Colorado State University's Department of Atmospheric Science — a leading institution in Metereology — on Thursday announced its extended range forecast, called the Atlantic Seasonal Hurricane Activity and Landfall Probability, and has found that this year's season will be above normal.
"We anticipate that the 2020 Atlantic basin hurricane season will have above-normal activity. Current warm neutral ENSO conditions appear likely to transition to cool neutral ENSO or potentially even weak La Niña conditions by this summer/fall. Sea surface temperatures averaged across the tropical Atlantic are somewhat above normal," CSU said.
ENSO, or El Niño–Southern Oscillation, is an irregularly periodic variation in winds and sea surface temperatures over the tropical eastern Pacific Ocean, affecting the climate of much of the tropics and subtropics. The warming phase of the sea temperature is known as El Niño and the cooling phase as La Niña.
CSU said based on information it obtained through March 2020, the indication is that the 2020 Atlantic hurricane season will have activity above the 1981-2010 average.
"We estimate that 2020 will have about 8 hurricanes (average is 6.4), 16 named storms (average is 12.1), 80 named storm days (average is 59.4), 35 hurricane days (average is 24.2), 4 major (Category 3-4-5) hurricanes (average is 2.7) and 9 major hurricane days (average is 6.2). The probability of U.S. major hurricane landfall is estimated to be about 130 percent of the long-period average," CSU said.
The latest forecast is based on a new extended-range early April statistical prediction scheme that was developed using 38 years of past data, according to CSU. Analog predictors are also utilized.
CSU said the probability for at least one major hurricane to track into the Caribbean this year is 58 percent. The average for the last 100 years has been 42 percent.
The probability for at least one major hurricane to track into the entire U.S. this year is 69 percent, a 17 percent higher probability based on the 100-year average of 52 percent.
As for the U.S. East Coast, the chance this year for a major storm is 45 percent; the average for the last 100 years has been 31 percent.
And for the Gulf Coast from the Florida Panhandle westward to Brownsville, this year's chance is 44 percent — 14 percentage points higher than the average of the last century of 30 percent.
This year's above-normal prediction from CSU comes at a time when the world is reeling from the global coronavirus pandemic. The disease, which has brought economies around the world to a near halt, has caused the loss of 10 million jobs so far in the United States. It has also killed more than 53,000 people and infected over 1 million. The virus, also called Covid-19 (Coronavirus Disease 2019) is expected to still be affecting the U.S. and Caribbean through the summer. The hurricane season starts on June 1, but its peak is between mid-August and late October.