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Atlantic basin may see up to 4 major hurricanes as above-normal tropical activity predicted for 2020

Meteorologists predict 14 to 18 tropical storms in the upcoming hurricane season
UPDATED MAR 27, 2020
(Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

Hurricane season is about to set in, and according to the meteorologists at Accuweather, this year will be another intense one for the Atlantic basin.

Accuweather's new forecast released this week says the 2020 Atlantic hurricane season is expected to have 'above-normal' tropical activity for the fifth consecutive year. While normally, the Atlantic experiences roughly 12 storms, six hurricanes (out of which three are major), 2020 is anticipating 14 to 18 tropical storms in the upcoming hurricane season, Meteorologists have predicted. They also said that seven to nine of those storms could be hurricanes and two to four are expected to intensify as major hurricanes.

"It's going to be an above-normal season," top Accuweather forecaster Dan Kottlowski confirmed. "On a normal year, we have around 12 storms, six hurricanes and roughly three major hurricanes."

Typically, hurricane season lasts from June 1 to  November 30. The 2019 season matched the hurricane season from 1969 as the fourth worst to hit the Atlantic basin in the past 150 years. Comprising 18 storms throughout the period including Hurricanes Dorian, Lorenzo, Humberto and Tropical Storm Imelda, it caused up to $11 billion in total damage.

While determining the forecast for this year's season, Meteorologists used analog years (comparing one year's weather conditions to another) and determined the tropical activity. For this season specifically, 1980 and 2005 were considered as analog years, because the 2005 hurricane season was a 'hyperactive year', as Kottlowski noted. 

Hurricane Katrina was the most devastating and expensive cyclone that occurred during the 2005 hurricane season that caused approximately $125 billion in damage. It particularly crippled the city of New Orleans and neighboring areas resulting in 1,800 fatalities. It ties in with 2017's Hurricane Harvey (which left 107 people dead in its wake) in terms of total damage.

Damaged buildings and a flooded street are seen after hurricane Michael passed through the downtown area on October 10, 2018, in Panama City, Florida (Getty Images)

Hurricane Rita and Wilma in 2005's season were also storms of a similar magnitude. Hurricane Allen strengthened into a Category 5 storm wreaking havoc in Haiti first and then in lower Texas, in 1980. The number of casualties reported were 200 people.

"There are a number of analog years we looked at that certainly show high-impact storms affecting the United States," Kottlowski said. 

Forecasters claim that two to four of the storm will have some sort of impact on the US "These could be direct hits or a storm scraping the coast but still causing impacts,' Kottlowski added.

Meteorologists have already begun examining and taking notes on the water temperatures in the Caribbean and East Bahamas as they start to warm up. Late March data from an NOAA station highlights the temperature has hit 80 degrees Fahrenheit, says the Accuweather forecast report.

"Warm water is actually what drives a lot of seasons," Kottlowski justified. "So those will be areas to keep an eye on for early-season development."

Kottlowski advised that people should start making hurricane plans or a gameplan for possible evacuation, beforehand. “Forecasts will give you an idea of how active it might be, but all it takes is one storm to make landfall in your area to cause serious and life-threatening problems,” he said. “This year, more than likely, we’ll get hit with one or two big storms and we don’t know specifically where that is, so if you live near a coast or on an island, have a hurricane plan in place."