North Carolina has been directly hit by a Hurricane two years in a row now; maybe this year, we will not. Unfortunately, signs don't point in the right direction. The 2018 Hurricane season was one of the most destructive seasons for NC in recent memory. In 2018 Hurricane Florence caused $20 Billion worth of damage to the state; this still leaves many North Carolina residents on edge. Today the National Hurricane Center released its 2020 Outlook; you can read my forecast below it.
"NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center is forecasting a likely range of 13 to 19 named storms (winds of 39 mph or higher), of which 6 to 10 could become hurricanes (winds of 74 mph or higher), including 3 to 6 major hurricanes (category 3, 4 or 5; with winds of 111 mph or higher). NOAA provides these ranges with a 70% confidence. An average hurricane season produces 12 named storms, of which 6 become hurricanes, including 3 major hurricanes." From the National Hurricane Center
NC State and Colorado State are also predicting above-average Hurricane seasons.
That’s why today, I am releasing North Carolina’s Weather Authority 2020 Hurricane Forecast. Forecasting hurricanes are challenging, let alone forecasting an entire season, that’s why many weeks of research have gone into this forecast. 2020 Hurricane Season is expected to be above average with more activity than last year. This does not mean NC will get hit, but we need to be ready no matter what. My outlook calls for 14-18 named storms (39 MPH or greater) of those 5-9 will become Hurricanes (74 MPH or greater), and 3-4 of those will become Major Hurricanes (111 MPH or greater)
NCWA outlook is based on a number of factors, including sea-surface temperatures in the Atlantic Ocean, El Niño, La Niña, and other teleconnections, statistical computer forecast model guidance, and past hurricane seasons exhibiting similar atmospheric conditions.
This outlook reflects competing climate factors. New model data suggest that La Niña is expected to develop during the Hurricane Season. Also, with La Nina, the combination of warmer-than-average sea-surface temperatures in the tropical Atlantic Ocean and the Caribbean Sea, and an enhanced west African monsoon, both of which favor increased hurricane activity. I am predicting that these factors will lead to an above-average Hurricane Season.
There is no strong correlation between the number of storms or hurricanes and United States landfalls in any given season. One or more of the 17 named storms predicted to develop this season could hit the U.S., or none could at all. That’s why preparedness is key to Hurricane Season, every North Carolina resident should have a hurricane kit ready no matter where you are located. If you are located along the coast you should have a plan in place should you need to evacuate this season.
WHAT’S BEHIND THE FORECAST?
One main leading factor in Hurricane forecasting is La Niña. La Niña tends to produce warmer than normal sea surface temperatures in the Main Development Region of the Atlantic and Below average wind shear, which allows hurricanes to develop hurricanes. La Niña, at this point, is expected to begin to occur toward the end of summer, right now we are in a neutral stage which can also increase hurricane season.
Sea Surface Temperatures: Sea-surface temperatures in the Atlantic are currently very similar to those observed during the last three years, which were all active hurricane seasons. However, the North Atlantic sea-surface temperature anomalies in May matched Mays from previous years that went on to have inactive hurricane seasons.
Many factors go into a Hurricane Season, the one thing you can do right now is BE PREPARED being prepared will go a long way during and leading up to a Hurricane. As always you can count on North Carolina Weather Authority to get you through the season, this year I will be using state of the art forecasting graphics to help you be better prepared. Make sure you check out the new Hurricane section that's in progress on the website over the coming weeks for more information!