Monday marks official start of hurricane season

Monday marks official start of hurricane season
Atlantic Hurricane Season officially begins Monday. It continues through Nov. 30. (Source: NOAA)

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - Atlantic Hurricane Season officially begins Monday, but with two named storms already in the books.

NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center, a division of the National Weather Service, predicted an above-normal hurricane season in May.

The forecast includes the following predictions:

  • 13-19 named storms (maximum sustained winds of 39 mph or higher)
  • 6-10 hurricanes (maximum sustained winds of 74 mph or higher)
  • 3-6 major hurricanes (Category 3, 4 or 5, with winds of 111 mph or higher)

Forecasters expect El Nino conditions to either remain neutral or to trend toward La Nina, meaning there will not be an El Nino present to suppress hurricane activity.

Also, warmer-than-average sea surface temperatures in the tropical Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean Sea, coupled with reduced vertical wind shear, weaker tropical Atlantic trade winds, and an enhanced west African monsoon all increase the likelihood for an above-normal Atlantic hurricane season. Similar conditions have been producing more active seasons since the current high-activity era began in 1995.

An average hurricane season produces 12 named storms of which six become hurricanes. An average hurricane season produces three major hurricanes.

2 named storms formed before season began

With two names already used, the next named storm will be called Cristobal.

Forecasters are watching a named storm, Tropical Storm Amanda, which formed in the Pacific near Guatemala and is crossing Central America. But if the remnants of Amanda redevelop into a tropical storm in the Gulf of Mexico, it’s not clear whether the National Hurricane Center will have the storm keep its Pacific name or take on the name Cristobal.

The list of official names are set by the World Meteorological Organization and repeat every six years. Names of storms that are particularly devastating in terms of deaths or damage are retired.

Here is the list of the remaining 2020 storm names:

  • Cristobal
  • Dolly
  • Edouard
  • Fay
  • Gonzalo
  • Hanna
  • Isaias
  • Josephine
  • Kyle
  • Laura
  • Marco
  • Nana
  • Omar
  • Paulette
  • Rene
  • Sally
  • Teddy
  • Vicky
  • Wilfred

Tropical Storm Arthur formed on May 16 and brought heavy rain to North Carolina’s coast two days later.

Tropical Storm Bertha formed Wednesday as a tropical disturbance suddenly organized, developed into a tropical storm and made landfall within two hours, but caused few problems.

Bertha was named around 8 a.m. Wednesday and was onshore east of Charleston by 9:30 a.m. The state Department of Natural Resources called it “a sunrise surprise.” Six hours after the tropical storm formed, the National Hurricane Center downgraded it to a depression well inland.

2020 season the third in 10 years with 2 named storms forming before June 1

The 2020 hurricane season marked the sixth consecutive year the first named storm of the season formed before June 1.

Twice in the past decade, two named storms formed before the official kickoff of hurricane season.

It happened most recently in 2016, when Tropical Storm Alex formed on Jan. 12 of that year and Tropical Storm Bonnie formed briefly on May 28. It was also the year of Hurricane Matthew, which caused four deaths in South Carolina and was named the tenth-most-destructive hurricane to hit the United States.

Four years earlier, in 2012, Tropical Storm Alberto formed on May 19 and Subtropical Storm Beryl formed on May 26.

Hurricane season ends on Nov. 30.

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