Satellite image of 5 named storms in the Atlantic Basin on Sept. 14, 2020

2020 Atlantic Hurricane Season in Review

The 2020 Atlantic hurricane season began June 1 and lasted until November 30. Atlantic hurricanes cover areas over the Atlantic Ocean, the Gulf of Mexico, and the Caribbean Sea. Although hurricane season has come to an end, it is still possible for tropical storms to form over these regions.

NOAA’s seasonal hurricane outlook predicted a high chance for an above-normal season with a strong likelihood of it being extremely active, which was correct. The 2020 Atlantic hurricane season produced 30 named storms, with 13 of those becoming hurricanes. Of the 13 hurricanes, six of those were major hurricanes. The 2020 Atlantic hurricane season was the 5th consecutive above-normal season. 18 out of the last 26 hurricane seasons have been above-normal. Increased hurricane activity is related to the warm sea surface temperatures, which is a phase that has historically lasted around 25-40 years.

Quick Stats

  • 30 named storms: Arthur through Wildfred, Alpha through Iota
  • 13 hurricanes: Hanna, Isaias, Laura, Marco, Nana, Paulette, Sally, Teddy, Delta, Epsilon, Zeta, Eta, and Iota
  • 6 Major Hurricanes (3-5 Category): Laura, Teddy, Delta, Epsilon, Eta, and Iota (5 category 4, 1 category 5)
  • Hurricane Iota was the strongest storm: Category 5 with winds up to 160 mph on November 16
  • 12 storms hit the U.S. coastline: 5 of these storms came ashore in Louisiana (Previous record was in 1916 when 9 storms hit the U.S. coastline)
  • Most named storms recorded for any month: 10 storms formed in September
  • Est. Damages: more than $41 billion (2020 USD)

Record Breaking Season

As expected, this year’s hurricane season was one for the books, as it was one of the most active hurricane seasons on record. With 30 named storms, the 2020 Atlantic hurricane season set the record for the most named storms in a single season and the second highest number of recorded hurricanes. Out of the 30 storms this season, 27 were the earliest of their storm sequence to form. Since there were so many named storms, forecasters used up the official storm name list and had to use the supplementary Greek alphabet, which has only happened one other time in 2005. For the first time ever, some of the Greek storm names are likely to be retired. Another unusual thing that occurred this hurricane season happened in Louisiana. At one point, the cones for both Marco and Laura covered Louisiana. In total, Louisiana spent three weeks in cones of uncertainty.

June 1, 2021 will mark the beginning of next hurricane season. NOAA will release the seasonal outlook next May.

Sources:

Weather.com, NOAA, Scientific American

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