Beyond The Forecast: Finally! Our extremely active hurricane season ends today

Happy Monday! It’s the final day of November, which means the long six months of hurricane season are coming to an end. Without a doubt, it’s been an extremely active season in the Atlantic basin.

Coming into the season, we knew La Niña conditions would help stir up tropical activity and organizations like Colorado State, NC State and NOAA were forecasting above-average seasons. We had no idea what we were in for.

Tropical Storm Arthur formed in mid-May, a couple of weeks before hurricane season officially began. Bertha and Cristobal were soon to follow, in fact, Cristobal was the earliest ‘C storm’ on record. Many of the early-season storms were weak or didn’t affect the United States much.

Things started to change with Hanna, Isaias and especially Laura. All of these storms made landfall in the United States as hurricanes, causing big impacts to different coastal regions. Sally was another impactful storm to make landfall in the U.S. We officially ran out of names on the regular list on Sept. 18, when Wilfred formed.

The tropics did not quiet down, though. We continued on to the Greek alphabet to name storms. Some of the strongest storms of the season came during October and November, including Delta, Eta and Iota.

Iota made some history as the second storm to strengthen to Category 5 status during November. To this point, there have been THIRTY named storms this year.

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Of those named storms, we’ve had 13 hurricanes and six major storms. These numbers double up what we would get during an “average” season.

Some of the records the 2020 season now holds include the most named storms in a season along with 27 earliest formation records (think earliest ‘C storm’ or earliest sixth-named storm). This year also holds the record for most U.S. landfalls at twelve.

By accumulated cyclone energy (ACE), the 2020 season is in 13th place at 179.8. 2005 is still the standard-bearer by that metric at 250.13.

As many of you know, we received remnant rain from quite a few of these storms, eight to be exact. All of this remnant rain is contributing to extreme rainfall records for much of our region.

Lynchburg and Roanoke have a shot at the wettest year on record, thanks in large part to the tropics.

It’s important to note that the numbers and records listed in this article are not final until 2020 ends. It’s not impossible to get a late-season storm. In fact, the National Hurricane Center (NHC) is watching an area off the African coast for possible tropical development.

If a storm forms, it would be named ‘Kappa,’ extending 2020′s record for most named storms. This is thousands of miles away from the United States, so no impacts are expected here.

Switching gears to your local forecast, our overnight rain is gone but we’re turning our attention to wind, cold and mountain snow to start December. Meteorologist Chris Michaels has a great breakdown of what we expect this week in our daily forecast article.

You can always get specific forecast details for your zone, whether it’s the Roanoke Valley, the New River Valley, Highlands or elsewhere around Southwest and Central Virginia, anytime at WSLS.com/weather. Know your zone!

In case you missed it, we’re posting great weather and science content on WSLS.com. Here are a few links from the past week to check out:

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-- Justin McKee


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