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NOAA joins Colorado State University by upping its 2020 hurricane forecast

Warmer than average sea-surface temperatures and a possible La Niña will likely lead to a lot more storms this season.

NOAA's 2020 hurricane season forecast as of 8/6/2020
NOAA's 2020 hurricane season forecast as of 8/6/2020

ROANOKE, Va. – The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration issued an update to its forecast for the rest of the Atlantic hurricane season. Similar to Wednesday’s forecast from Colorado State University, NOAA is forecast an “extremely active” season ahead.

The forecast calls for an 85% chance of above normal activity. The range NOAA has given is 19-25 named storms, 7-11 hurricanes and 3-6 major hurricanes. These numbers include what we’ve seen so far.

We’ve already seen nine named storms, which we see (on average) by early October. Historically speaking, hurricane season peaks between August 20 and October 10. While there aren’t any immediate systems, NOAA and CSU cite a few things that will likely contribute to a busy rest of the season.

- Warmer than average sea surface temperatures. The warmer the water is, the more conducive it becomes for tropical systems to grow and intensify.

- Weakened wind shear. Wind shear refers to the difference in wind speed and direction from the ground up. Tropical systems become more developed when the wind is uniform at multiple levels.

- La Niña. It’s possible that the ocean water cools in the eastern Pacific. This, in turn, leads to less intense wind in the upper levels of the atmosphere. That falls in line with less wind shear and a better chance for hurricane development.

If we make it beyond 21 named storms, storms will take on Greek letters as their names. For instance, the 22nd storm would be called Tropical Storm or Hurricane Alpha.

Count on Your Local Weather Authority to keep you posted throughout the rest of the season, which runs until November 30.

About the Author:

Meteorologist Chris Michaels is an American Meteorological Society (AMS) Certified Broadcaster, forecasting weather conditions in southwest Virginia on WSLS 10 News from 5 a.m. to 7 a.m. weekdays on Virginia Today.