2020 Hurricane season smashes records

Updated: Nov. 25, 2020 at 7:25 PM EST
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - While the 2020 Hurricane Season isn’t over yet – Nov. 30 – we can only hope it ends as scheduled!

But it isn’t too early to recap this historic 2020 season. Records were broken all over the place.

The most common record cited is of course the total number of named storms.

A storm gets named when it reaches a sustained speed (circulation) of 39mph. Generally those are your classic ‘Tropical Storms’.

This year we had 30 named storms. The previous record was 28 in 2005.

That was also the only other year we exhausted the English alphabet and we needed to rely on the Greek alphabet.

And we dove pretty deep into it this year as the nine additional storms took us all the way down to ‘Iota’!

In fact, we had already exhausted the English alphabet by September 18th when Wilfred formed.

Surprisingly we did not set a record for the most hurricanes, but 2020 did produce the second most, again, behind the year 2005.

Hurricane seasons have historically run through long cycles of active years and quiet years. We were enjoying a long stretch of quiet hurricane seasons up until 1995.

Since then, we have been in the active phase of the cycle. That’s right, these cycles can last anywhere from 25 to 40 years!

It isn’t too early to recap this historic 2020 season.  Records were broken all over the place.
It isn’t too early to recap this historic 2020 season. Records were broken all over the place.(WBTV)

These cycles stem from what is known as the Atlantic Multi-Decadal Oscillation (AMO). In short, this describes how the overall ocean heat content and sea surface temperatures flip-flop over time.

As it stands now, the ocean heat content has been warmer-than-average and this is one of the primary drivers and sources of energy to initiate tropical cyclones.

But it’s not the only driver. A combination of factors came together in 2020 to create the ideal environment for the relentless number of storms this year.

Other parameters that can either enhance or diminish a hurricane season include:

  • West African Monsoon Season - It was strong in 2020. Good for hurricanes.
  • African Wind Shear - It was weak in 2020. Good for hurricanes.
  • La Nina - El Nino wind patterns disrupt hurricanes. La Nina is good for hurricanes.

Ok, if you survived this boiler plate discussion, here are more facts, figures and records from the 2020 hurricane season:

  • 12 storms hit the US coastline in 2020. Previous record is nine in 1916. Five storms came ashore in Louisiana, wow!
  • 10 named storms formed in September. That’s the most for any month on record!
  • 10 storms were classified as ‘Rapidly Intensifying’.
  • 86 Missions were flown by the NOAA Hurricane Hunters.
  • 16 NOAA weather satellites were scanning the region.
  • 5th consecutive above average season.
  • 18th above average season out of the last 26.
  • 5 tropical systems were occurring simultaneously in the Atlantic basin in mid-September: Sally, Paulette, Rene, Vicky and Teddy.

Could we see more tropical development after the ‘end’ of Hurricane Season’ November 30th?

Don’t let your guard down. Remember this is 2020!!!

Meteorologist Eric Thomas

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