Sat | Sep 26, 2020

Hurricane Alpha? Amped up season forecast, names may run out

Published:Thursday | August 6, 2020 | 5:16 PM
Boats are piled on each other in the marina following the effects of Hurricane Isaias in Southport, North Carolina, Tuesday, August 4, 2020. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome, File)

Already smashing records, this year’s hyperactive Atlantic hurricane season is about to get even nastier, forecasters predict.

In the coming months, they expect to run out of traditional hurricane names and see about twice as much storm activity as a normal year.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration on Thursday upped its seasonal forecast, now predicting a far-above-average 19 to 25 named storms — seven to 11 of them to become hurricanes and three to six of those to become major hurricanes with winds of at least 111 miles per hour.

That’s a few more storms than the agency’s May forecast. The agency increased the chance of an above average hurricane season from 60% to 85%.

“It looks like this season could be one of the more active in the historical record,” but it’s unlikely to be beat 2005’s 28 named storms because the oceans were warmer and other conditions were more conducive to storm formation 15 years ago, said NOAA lead forecaster Gerry Bell.

This year’s forecast of up to 25 is the highest number NOAA has ever predicted, beating the 21 predicted for 2005, Bell said.

Colorado State University, which pioneered hurricane season forecasts decades ago, on Wednesday amped its forecast to 24 named storms, 12 hurricanes and 5 major hurricanes — all higher than their June forecast.

An average year, based on 1981 to 2010 data, is 12 named storms, six hurricanes and three major hurricanes.

Lead Colorado State forecaster Phil Klotzbach said all the factors that cause hurricane seasons to be busy are dialled up, including increased storminess in Africa that seeds the biggest hurricanes, warmer water that fuels storms and reduced high-level winds that kill storms.

In a normal year, about 90% of storm activity comes after August 6, with mid-August to mid-October as peak season.

So far this year, there have been nine named storms, with most setting a record for being early.

The most destructive so far has been this month’s Hurricane Isaias which killed at least nine people and left millions of people without power.

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