Following the novel coronavirus pandemic, the U.S. is likely to face an above-average hurricane season, according to a recent forecast made by The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
“NOAA’s outlook for the 2020 hurricane season indicates that an above-normal season is most likely with a possibility of that season being extremely active,” said NOAA administrator Neil Jacobs during a recent media teleconference. “Specifically, there is a 60 percent chance of above-normal season 30 percent chance of near-normal season, and just a 10 percent chance of below-normal season.”
Forecasters from NOAA said that several different climate factors, such as ocean surface temperatures being higher than normal, are producing a strong likelihood for an “above-normal” season. The lack of El Nino, which produces strong winds that break severe storms up, is also a factor affecting the upcoming season, which begins on June 1 and lasts through November.
“NOAA’s analysis of current and seasonal atmospheric conditions reveals a recipe for an active Atlantic hurricane season this year,” Jacobs added.
During the recent teleconference, Jacobs said that NOAA’s Atlantic outlook, “calls for a 70 percent probability for each of the following ranges: 13-19 main storms with top winds of at least 39 mph, of those 6-10 will become hurricanes with top winds of at least 74 mph and that includes 3-6 major hurricanes, category 3 and higher, with top winds of at least 111 mph.”
Jacobs also said that at this current time NOAA is not able to predict how many of these possible storms will hit land.
According to Dr. Jerry Bell, NOAA’s lead seasonal hurricane forecaster with the climate prediction center, the peak months of the Atlantic hurricane season are August, September and October, and if 2020 becomes an above-normal season, “it will make a record of five consecutive above-normal Atlantic hurricane seasons and this would surpass the previous record of four set during 1998 to 2001.”
Carlos Castillo, acting deputy administrator for resilience at Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), suggested that the combination of the novel coronavirus pandemic, which has infected over 1.5 million people across the U.S, and the upcoming hurricane season will force people to change their emergency preparedness plans.
“Social distancing and other CDC guidance to keep you safe from COVID-19 may impact the disaster preparedness plan you had in place, including what is in your go-kit, evacuation routes, shelters and more. With tornado season at its peak, hurricane season around the corner, and flooding, earthquakes and wildfires a risk year-round, it is time to revise and adjust your emergency plan now,” Castillo said.
In 2019, NOAA predicted 9 to 15 storms, with 4 to 8 of them becoming hurricanes. During the season, there were 18 total storms and six hurricanes, including hurricane Dorian, which severely impacted the Bahamas.
Though the season has not officially begun, the first named storm — Tropical Storm Arthur — brought wind and rain to North Carolina earlier this week before taking a northeastern turn away from land and into the Atlantic Ocean.