HOUSTON — The tropical meteorologists at Colorado State University, headed by Dr. Phil Klotzbach, has released their prediction for the upcoming 2020 Atlantic hurricane season and already it's looking to be a busy one.
Klotzbach and his team are calling for an above-average hurricane season totaling:
- 16 named storms
- 8 hurricanes
- 4 major hurricanes
The average number of storms we see in a given year is 12.
Klotzbach says a couple of factors have lined up to give this season the ingredients needed for an active year:
"We anticipate that the 2020 Atlantic Basin hurricane season will have above-normal activity," Klotzbach said. "Current warm neutral ENSO (El Nino Southern Oscillation) conditions appear likely to transition to cool neutral ENSO or potentially even weak La Niña conditions by this summer/fall. Sea surface temperatures averaged across the tropical Atlantic are somewhat above normal."
Those two key factors could lead to a busy summer for meteorologists tracking systems across the Atlantic.
What is El Niño?
El Niño is an anomalous warming of the east Pacific waters which can cause strong wind shear to rip across the Caribbean and the main development region of the Atlantic. That strong wind shear helps to tear apart systems that would otherwise go on and develop into tropical storms and hurricanes.
What is La Niña?
La Niña is the opposite: an anomalous cooling of the east Pacific and helps to decrease the wind shear across the Atlantic leading to more of a stable environment for tropical development.
LINK: Latest Houston forecast
Active vs. Inactive
Klotzbach is quick to remind us that an active season doesn't necessarily mean a destructive season, just like an inactive season doesn't mean a non-destructive season.
Houstonians remember well the 1983 hurricane season. That year only four named storms formed all season long, the very first one being Hurricane Alicia, which hit Houston/Galveston head-on as a Category 3 hurricane and became Texas' first billion-dollar disaster.
While many storms are likely to form in the 2020 season, it's important to remember that it only takes one direct hit to make it a truly bad season for you and your family.