Hurricane season in the Atlantic has so far been quite active, with nine storms chewing through the alphabet already—two of them (Hanna and Isaias) reached hurricane strength before making landfall. Unfortunately, this pattern isn’t expected to let up, as hurricane outlooks have upgraded the odds that this highly active season is going to continue. In fact, NOAA is suggesting that we could be considering names starting with Y before things settle down for the winter.
In May, NOAA’s hurricane season outlook gave 60 percent odds of above-average activity, with something like 13 to 19 named storms, six to 10 hurricanes, and three to six major hurricanes of Category 3 or higher.
On Thursday, NOAA released an updated outlook with higher probabilities. “The season is now expected to be one of the more active in the historical record,” it notes. The outlook now calls for between 19 and 25 named storms and with seven to 11 hurricanes, though the number of major hurricanes is unchanged. Because the potential energy available for storms can produce one big storm or multiple smaller ones, the total is often calculated as “Accumulated Cyclone Energy,” or ACE. An above-normal hurricane season hits 120 percent of the median ACE, while clearing 165 percent defines an extremely active season. The new outlook sees the 2020 season hitting anywhere from 140 to 230 percent of median ACE.