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This season is not a prediction for 2020 and does not take into account of possible retirees between the present day and that year.
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The 2020 Atlantic hurricane season was the second most active annual hurricane season since reliable record began in 1851, and was only the second season to use the Greek alphabet. The year featured an anomalously high number of tropical cyclones affect Central America, due to a strong Azores High. The season officially began on June 1 and ended on November 30, dates that conventionally delimit the period during each year in which tropical cyclogenesis occurs in the North Atlantic. The first system, Arthur, developed on June 18 in the western Caribbean. Activity was sparse throughout the rest of the month and July. However, towards the peak of the season, tropical activity rapidly increased, with multiple consecutive storms forming off of Cape Verde. Activity waned towards the end of the season, with the final storm, Alpha, dissipated on November 26.

Pre-season forecasts by the NOAA – the official forecasting agency for the northern Atlantic – predicted a generally average season, citing the return of the Pacific Decadal Oscillation and a forecast weak El Niño, which inhibits tropical cyclone activity in the basin. Other prediction consortiums also projected a generally average season. However, an unexpected improvement in cyclogenic conditions in the Atlantic resulted in raised forecasts. Colorado State University projected the least active season, with 12 named storms, 5 hurricanes, and 2 major hurricanes,[nb 1] while the NOAA projected the most active season in their mid-season outlook, with 13–18 named storms, 6–12 hurricanes, and 3–4 major hurricanes.

Effects of tropical cyclones on land during the year were widespread, though damage was heavily concentrated on Central America, particularly Belize and Nicaragua. The first storm of the season, Arthur, impacted areas of the Lesser Antilles in mid-June. Hurricane Fay in early August brought severe flooding to areas of the Isthmus of Tehuantepec, resulting in 251 deaths, the most for the region since Hurricane Stan in 2005. The strongest tropical cyclone during the season, Marco, reached Category 5 hurricane intensity before striking Puerto Rico and Hispaniola, causing extensive damage and over a thousand deaths. The costliest and deadliest hurricane of the season was Hurricane Nicholas, which impacted Central America and Florida, causing $16 billion in damage and 2,301 deaths. Collectively, storms during 2020 caused $56.5 billion in damage and 5,702 fatalities,[nb 2] making it the costliest hurricane season since 2012 and the deadliest hurricane season since 1998.

Seasonal forecasts

Predictions of tropical activity in the 2020 season
Source Date Named
storms
Hurricanes Major
hurricanes
Average (1981–2010) 12.1 6.4 2.7
Record high activity 28 15 8
Record low activity 4 2 0
–––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––
TSR December 7, 2019 12 6 1
WSI December 21, 2019 13 7 3
CSU April 4, 2020 12 5 2
TSR April 12, 2020 13 6 3
TWC April 24, 2020 12 5 2
TSR May 23, 2020 13 5 2
UKMO May 24, 2020 14 N/A N/A
NOAA May 24, 2020 11–14 4–6 1–2
FSU COAPS May 30, 2020 15 8
CSU June 1, 2020 15 7 4
TSR June 6, 2020 17 8 5
NOAA August 9, 2020 13–18 6–12 3–4
–––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––
Actual activity
22 11 5
† Most recent of several such occurrences. (See all)

In advance of, and during, each hurricane season, several forecasts of hurricane activity are issued by national meteorological services, scientific agencies, and noted hurricane experts. These include forecasters from the United States NOAA's National Hurricane and Climate Prediction Center's, Philip J. Klotzbach, William M. Gray and their associates at CSU, Tropical Storm Risk, and the United Kingdom's Met Office. The forecasts include weekly and monthly changes in significant factors that help determine the number of tropical storms, hurricanes, and major hurricanes within a particular year. As stated by NOAA and CSU, an average Atlantic hurricane season between 1981–2010 contains roughly 12 tropical storms, 6 hurricanes, 3 major hurricanes, and an Accumulated Cyclone Energy (ACE) Index of 66–103 units. NOAA typically categorizes a season as either above-average, average, of below-average based on the cumulative ACE Index; however, the number of tropical storms, hurricanes, and major hurricanes within a hurricane season is considered occasionally as well.

Pre-season forecasts

On December 7, 2019, Tropical Storm Risk (TSR), a public consortium consisting of experts on insurance, risk management, and seasonal climate forecasting at University College London, issued an extended-range forecast predicting an average hurricane season. In its report, TSR noted that tropical cyclone activity could be about 2% above the 1950–2010 average, with 12.2 (±4.4) tropical storms, 6.4 (±3.7) hurricanes, and 1.3 (±0.8) major hurricanes anticipated, and a cumulative ACE index of 102 (±64). Later that month on December 21, Weather Services International (WSI) issued an extended-range forecast predicting a near average hurricane season. In its forecast, WSI noted that an unprecedented return of the Pacific Decadal Oscillation beginning in 2018, combined with a forecast strengthening El Niño, would result in a near-average season with 13 named storms, 7 hurricanes, and 3 major hurricanes. They also predicted an above-average probability of a hurricane landfall, with a heavily elevated chance on the Greater Antilles and a slightly reduced chance along the East Coast of the United States, citing a stronger Bermuda High. On April 4, 2020, Colorado State University (CSU) issued their updated forecast for the season, calling for a below-normal season due to an increased chance for the development of an El Niño during the season. In April 2012, TSR issued their update forecast for the season, slightly raising their forecast due to a large model spread for El Niño projections.

On May 24, 2020, the NOAA released their forecast for the season, which echoed the sentiment of prior forecasts. The agency predicted a near-normal season, with eleven to fourteen named storms, four to six hurricanes, and one to two major hurricanes. The NOAA based its forecast on higher wind shear and cooler sea surface temperatures in the Main Development Region of the Eastern Atlantic. Gerry Bell, lead seasonal forecaster at NOAA's Climate Prediction Center, added the main uncertainty in the outlook was how much below or above average the 2020 season would be, and if the neutral El Niño/Southern Oscillation would strengthen or weaken to a La Niña. That same day, the United Kingdom Met Office (UKMO) issued a forecast of a slightly above average season. They predicted 14 named storms with a 70% chance that the number would be between 7 and 16. However, they do not issue forecasts on the number of hurricanes and major hurricanes. They also predicted an ACE index of 112 with a 70% chance that the index would be in the range 35 to 167. On May 30, 2012, the Florida State University for Ocean-Atmospheric Prediction Studies (FSU COAPS) issued its annual Atlantic hurricane season forecast. The organization predicted 15 named storms, including 8 hurricanes, and an ACE index of 124.

Mid-season forecasts

2020 NHC-CS Track Map

Official NHC track map of the season

On June 1, Klotzbach's team issued their updated forecast for the 2020 season, predicting fifteen named storms and seven hurricanes, of which four of the seven would further intensify into major hurricanes. The university stated that there was an unexpected warming of Atlantic sea surface temperatures, and a high amount of uncertainty concerning whether the neutral ENSO conditions would continue to decrease or further develop in time to hinder tropical development in the Atlantic. They also stated there was a generally average chance of a major hurricane impacting the United States coastline in 2020.

On June 6, Tropical Storm Risk released their second updated forecast for the season, predicting seventeen named storms, eight hurricanes, and five major hurricanes. In addition, the agency called for an Accumulated Cyclone Energy index of 135. Above average sea surface temperatures and lesser wind shear was cited for increased activity compared to previous seasons. Tropical Storm Risk continued with their forecast of a near-average probability of a United States impact during the season using the 1950–2011 long-term normal, and a near-average chance of a United States landfall by the recent 2002–2011 normal.

On August 9, 2020, the NOAA issued their mid-season outlook for the remainder of the 2020 season, drastically upping their final numbers. The agency predicted between thirteen and eighteen named storms, six to twelve hurricanes, and three to four major hurricanes. Gerry Bell cited warmer-than-normal sea surface temperatures and lesser than average wind shear.

Season summary

Timeline of the 2020 AHS (CS)

Storms

Tropical Storm Arthur

Tropical storm (SSHWS)
Tropical Storm Earl (2004).jpg Tropical Storm Earl (2020=CobraStrike) Track.png
Duration June 18 – June 22
Peak intensity 50 mph (85 km/h) (1-min)  1004 mbar (hPa)

In mid-June, an unusually strong tropical wave moved off the coast of Africa, showing signs of gradual development. The National Hurricane Center began monitoring the tropical wave for potential signs of development, culminating in tropical cyclogenesis on 1800 UTC on June 18. Gradual development continued, and at 0000 UTC the following day. Due to an above-average pressure gradient in the region, Arthur maintained an unusually high pressure, which continued to peak intensity at 1800 UTC that day, by which time it had winds of 50 mph (80 km/h), despite a minimum pressure of only 1004 mbar (hPa; 29.65 inHg). After peak intensity, Arthur moved into the Caribbean Sea, where it encountered strong trade winds, tearing apart the system. Weakening ensued, and the storm dissipated on June 22.

As it moved through the Lesser Antilles on June 21, Arthur brought widespread rainfall. Precipitation peaked at 5.12 in (130 mm) at Grantley Adams International Airport in Barbados. Though this precipitation was generally light, the ground was already well saturated by prior tropical waves, resulting in localized flooding which damaged some residences. In Grenada, strong winds, which peaked at 48 mph (77 km/h), caused widespread power outages. Downed utility poles resulted in some localized urban fires. As a weakening tropical cyclone, Arthur passed north of the ABC islands, causing light rainfall. However, damage was minimal. Overall, Arthur caused $80,000 in damage, and no deaths resulted.

Tropical Storm Bertha

Main article: Tropical Storm Bertha (2020)
Tropical storm (SSHWS)
Alberto satellite.jpg Tropical Storm Bertha (2020-CobraStrike) Track.png
Duration July 2 – July 5 (Extratropical after July 4)
Peak intensity 70 mph (110 km/h) (1-min)  989 mbar (hPa)

Bertha originated from a combination of the remnants of Tropical Storm Arthur and a low-pressure area in the Bay of Campeche on July 2. Initially drifting northward, a shortwave trough forced the system northeast; Bertha intensified to tropical storm intensity on July 3. Continuing to strengthen, Bertha peaked in intensity shortly before making landfall on Tampa, Florida midday on July 4. As it crossed the Florida peninsula, Bertha weakened and became more frontal in structure. As such it was classified as an extratropical cyclone on July 4; these remnants dissipated by July 6.

As a precursor disturbance and tropical depression, Bertha brought light to moderate rainfall to areas of the Yucatan Peninsula, benefiting an ongoing drought there. Upon landfall on the Tampa Peninsula, Bertha became the first tropical cyclone of tropical storm intensity to directly strike the peninsula from the west since the fourth storm of 1899. As much of the rain was concentrated to the north of the circulation center, torrential rain fell in northern portions of the state, causing widespread flooding. Overall, the storm caused $200,000 in damage and two deaths, both offshore the western Florida coast.

Hurricane Cristobal

Category 1 hurricane (SSHWS)
Tropical Storm Paula 11 Oct 2010.jpg Hurricane Cristobal (2010-CobraStrike) Track.png
Duration July 23 – July 27
Peak intensity 90 mph (150 km/h) (1-min)  984 mbar (hPa)

Tropical Storm Dolly

Tropical storm (SSHWS)
Colin tmo 2010215.jpg Tropical Storm Dolly (2020-Cobra Strike) Track.png
Duration August 2 – August 7
Peak intensity 45 mph (75 km/h) (1-min)  1002 mbar (hPa)

Tropical Storm Edouard

Tropical storm (SSHWS)
Tropical Storm Edouard and Fay (CobraStrike-2020).png Tropical Storm Edouard (2020-CobraStrike) Track.png
Duration August 2 – August 5
Peak intensity 40 mph (65 km/h) (1-min)  1004 mbar (hPa)

Hurricane Fay

Category 2 hurricane (SSHWS)
Hurricane Karl 2010-09-16 1720Z.jpg Hurricane Fay (2020-CobraStrike) Track.png
Duration August 5 – August 11
Peak intensity 105 mph (165 km/h) (1-min)  968 mbar (hPa)

Hurricane Gonzalo

Category 4 hurricane (SSHWS)
Hurricane Frances 2004.jpg Hurricane Gonzalo (2020-CobraStrike) Track.png
Duration August 7 – August 21
Peak intensity 145 mph (230 km/h) (1-min)  932 mbar (hPa)

Hurricane Hanna

Main article: Hurricane Hanna
Category 4 hurricane (SSHWS)
Hurricane Hanna (2020-CobraStrike).png Hurricane Hanna (2020-CobraStrike) Track.png
Duration August 14 – August 31
Peak intensity 155 mph (250 km/h) (1-min)  918 mbar (hPa)

Tropical Depression Nine

Tropical depression (SSHWS)
Tropical Depression Nine (CobraStrike-2020).png Tropical Depression Nine (2020-CobraStrike) Track.png
Duration August 20 – August 21
Peak intensity 35 mph (55 km/h) (1-min)  998 mbar (hPa)

In mid- to late August, a strong cold front moved off the East Coast of the United States. As it drifted eastward, it eventually became stationary while situated between Bermuda and North Carolina. As the front became diffuse, a small low-pressure area formed in the vicinity of Bermuda. Due to nearby Hurricane Gonzalo, the low-pressure failed to organize.

However, on August 20, a burst of convection associated with the low-pressure system once Gonzalo had passed to the north had allowed the National Hurricane Center to classify the system as a tropical depression at 1200 UTC that day. Due to the outflow associated with the nearby hurricane, the center of circulation of Tropical Depression Nine remained exposed throughout its lifetime. The following day, however, an increase of shear caused the main convective cell to separate from the circulation center, and the depression was declared to have dissipated at 1200 UTC on August 21.

Tropical Storm Isais

Tropical storm (SSHWS)
TS Frances 10 sept 1998 2040Z.jpg Tropical Storm Isais (2020-CobraStrike) Track.png
Duration August 24 – August 27
Peak intensity 45 mph (75 km/h) (1-min)  999 mbar (hPa)

Hurricane Josephine

Category 3 hurricane (SSHWS)
Hurricane Roxanne 10 oct 1995 1855Z.jpg Hurricane Josephine (2020-CobraStrike) Track.png
Duration August 25 – September 2
Peak intensity 115 mph (185 km/h) (1-min)  959 mbar (hPa)

Hurricane Kyle

Category 2 hurricane (SSHWS)
800px-Hurricane Dolly July 23, 2008.jpg Hurricane Kyle (2020-CobraStrike) Track.png
Duration September 5 – September 12
Peak intensity 110 mph (175 km/h) (1-min)  956 mbar (hPa)

Was considered the worst hurricane to impact the Corpus Christi areas since Hurricane Celia.

Tropical Storm Laura

Tropical storm (SSHWS)
Beta.A2005300.1850.250m.jpg Tropical Storm Laura (2020-CobraStrike) Track.png
Duration September 7 – September 11
Peak intensity 70 mph (110 km/h) (1-min)  987 mbar (hPa)

First named tropical cyclone to make landfall on Costa Rica.

Storm names

  • Arthur
  • Bertha
  • Cristobal
  • Dolly
  • Edouard
  • Fay
  • Gonzalo
  • Hanna
  • Isaias
  • Josephine
  • Kyle
  • Laura
  • Marco
  • Nana
  • Omar
  • Paulette
  • Rene
  • Sally
  • Teddy
  • Vicky
  • Wilfred
  • Alpha

Retirement

Season effects

The following table lists all of the storms that formed in the 2020 Atlantic hurricane season. It includes their duration, names, landfall(s)–denoted by bold location names–damages, and death totals. Deaths in parentheses are additional and indirect (an example of an indirect death would be a traffic accident), but were still related to that storm. Damage and deaths include totals while the storm was extratropical, a wave, or a low.

Saffir–Simpson hurricane wind scale
TD TS C1 C2 C3 C4 C5


Storm name Dates active Storm category at peak intensity Max 1-min
mph (km/h)
Min press.
(mbar)
Areas affected Damage
(millions USD)
Deaths
Arthur June 18 – June 22 Tropical storm 50 (85) 1004 Lesser Antilles 0.080 None
Bertha July 2 – July 4 Tropical storm 70 (110) 989 Florida 0.200 2
Cristobal July 23 – July 27 Category 1 hurricane 90 (150) 984 Honduras, Belize, El Salvador, Mexico 18 12
Dolly August 2 – August 7 Tropical storm 45 (70) 1002 Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, Hispaniola 0.09 2
Edouard August 2 – August 5 Tropical storm 40 (65) 1004 Nicaragua, Honduras 0.02 None
Fay August 5 – August 11 Category 2 hurricane 105 (170) 968 Belize, Mexico, Guatemala 1,300 251
Gonzalo August 7 – August 21 Category 4 hurricane 145 (230) 932 Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, Bermuda, Atlantic Canada 67.3 3
Hanna August 14 – August 31 Category 4 hurricane 155 (250) 918 The Bahamas, Florida, Eastern United States 21,300 82
Nine August 20 – August 21 Tropical depression 35 (55) 998 None affected None None
Isais August 24 – August 27 Tropical storm 45 (75) 999 Mexico, Texas 250 21
Josephine August 25 – September 2 Category 3 hurricane 115 (185) 959 Nicaragua, Honduras, Cayman Islands, Mexico 800 98
Season aggregates
7 cyclones June 18 – September 2 155 (250) 918 23,735.69 461

See also

Notes

  1. A major hurricane is a tropical cyclone with maximum sustained winds greater than 115 mph (185 km/h).
  2. All damage totals are in 2020 United States dollars.

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