The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) released its annual Atlantic hurricane forecast today, predicting an above-average season for the fifth year in a row.
Forecasters expect six to 10 hurricanes, three to six major hurricanes, and 13 to 19 named storms. For comparison: 2019 saw 18 named storms.
Thirteen storms is considered average, or normal. Scientists say there is only a 10 percent chance of a below-normal 2020 season.
“NOAA’s analysis of current and seasonal atmospheric conditions reveals a recipe for an active Atlantic hurricane season this year,” said Neil Jacobs, acting NOAA administrator.
Officials listed several reasons for their forecast, including warmer water in the Atlantic and Caribbean, weaker trade winds, climate cycles, and the lack of El Niño conditions to slow the formation of storms.
There was already been one named storm before the season even started. Tropical storm Arthur formed off the North Carolina coast last week.
The Atlantic hurricane season runs from June 1 through November 30.
On a conference call with reporters, officials were reluctant to attribute the uptick to climate change, but scientists widely agree that climate change is causing more intense storms.
Emergency plans could be complicated by the global pandemic. FEMA released new guidance this week that says officials should limit the number of people evacuated in order to reduce the spread of COVID-19. Officials echoed that, saying evacuees should plan to wear face masks, socially distance, and try to stay with family instead of relying on hotels.
“As Americans focus their attention on a safe and healthy reopening of our country, it remains critically important that we also remember to make the necessary preparations for the upcoming hurricane season,” said Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross.
Support for the Coastal Desk comes from the Greater New Orleans Foundation and the Walton Family Foundation.