After four busy hurricane seasons, will 2020 give us a break?

After four busy hurricane seasons, will 2020 give us a break?

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. —The atmosphere is leaving scant clues as to its plans for the 2020 hurricane season, but an early forecast is seeing little respite from the yearslong streak of tropical cyclone tumult.

Colorado State University’s first review of the global climate patterns that could influence the next hurricane season, which begins June 1, found only a 10% chance for below normal activity, lead author and storm researcher Phil Klotzbach said.

The probability for an above normal season was 45% with the same chances given for a normal season.

CSU’s December outlook does not predict a specific number of storms, but forecasts the amount of accumulated cyclone energy, or ACE, for the season. ACE is a measure of the strength and longevity of a tropical cyclone.

“All in all, I’d say conditions favor a near-to somewhat above-average season given the odds of El Nino appear to me to be fairly low,” Klotzbach said. “Of course, my ability to predict El Nino this far in advance for next year’s hurricane season is extremely low.”

El Nino is a periodic global climate pattern that forms when the waters in the equatorial Pacific warm. The resulting changes in where towering thunderstorms form and shifts in wind directions high in the atmosphere work against Atlantic basin hurricanes.

But predicting El Nino, even a few months in advance, can be difficult.

This year, scientists from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, believed El Nino would grow to moderate strength and live through August, September and October —peak hurricane months.

Instead, it abruptly died in August, and the 2019 hurricane season ended with 18 named storms, including six hurricanes and three major hurricanes of Category 3 or higher. A normal season has 12 named storms, including six hurricanes and three major hurricanes.

“Making successful seasonal hurricane forecasts requires that one make a successful El Nino forecast,” said Jeff Masters, co-founder of Weather Underground who writes the Eye of the Storm blog for Scientific American. “When there are neutral conditions in December, as is the case now, there is not much we can say about what the state of El Nino will be next hurricane season —it could be virtually anything.”

Klotzbach notes that three quiet hurricane seasons between 2013 through 2015 led CSU researchers to believe that the Earth may be entering into a decades-long period of relaxed hurricane activity.

Then came the past four years that were not only above average in number of storms, but also damaging, with Hurricane Matthew (2016), Harvey, Irma and Maria (2017), Michael (2018) and this year’s Cat 5 Hurricane Dorian.

The chances of a storm hitting the U.S. based on historic activity is also considered in this month’s report.

Florida has the highest chance of having a hurricane make landfall at 51%. There is a 21% chance a major hurricane could hit the Sunshine State.

“No one can completely understand the full complexity of the atmosphere-ocean system,” CSU’s report says. “But, it is still possible to develop a reliable statistical forecast scheme.”

Some scientists, however, are wary of seasonal forecasts.

“I’ve never felt that seasonal outlooks had any value for coastal residents, in the sense that they provide no information on which to base preparedness decisions,” said James Franklin, the former chief of forecast operations at the National Hurricane Center. “A quiet season, even if predicted accurately in advance, offers no assurance that you won’t be struck by a devastating hurricane. And an active season, even if predicted in advance, doesn’t mean you’ll be hit or even threatened.”

CSU considers several factors in its December climate review, including the Atlantic Multi-Decadal Oscillation, or AMO. A positive phase of the AMO, which the Earth has been in since 1995, leads to three to five times more hurricane activity, as warmer waters feed hurricanes.

The AMO also is associated with a stronger African monsoon season, which forms the tropical waves that travel into the Atlantic and can form hurricanes.

“There is a maze of changing physical linkages between the many variables,” CSU’s report says.

Franklin’s advice is the same each time the calendar approaches June 1.

“Preparations should be taken each and every year, regardless of what the tea leaves might be saying about the upcoming season,” he said.

CSU’s first detailed forecast is scheduled for release April 2.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Paul Harris, owner of Tribe restaurant downtown, said a lot of the blame for the latest restrictions that will close outdoor patios on Sunday can be blamed on those not obeying health regulations and the government for failing to enforce the rules.
Photo by Paul Cowley/Advocate staff
Restaurant owners frustrated by patio shutdowns

Outdoor patios must stop serving by midnight Sunday to stem rising COVID infections

As of Friday, Alberta has under 10,000 active COVID-19 cases. (Image courtesy CDC)
Alberta reports 2,271 new COVID-19 cases, Red Deer cases rise slightly

Across Alberta, there are 666 people in hospital with COVID-19, including 146 in the ICU

‘Love, Oran’ is a documentary feature made by Red Deer-raised filmmaker Colin Scheyen. It’s about hidden letters, found in a Woodlea home after 70 years, revealing a family secret. (Screenshot by Advocate staff).
Hidden letters reveal secrets of Red Deer family in a new documentary film

‘Love, Oran,’ by filmmaker Colin Scheyen is showing at Edmonton’s NorthwestFest

Red Deer Rebels' three graduating players, Josh Tarzwell (left), Chris Douglas (middle) and Ethan Anders (right) will all move on to new opportunities next season. (Photo by ROB WALLATOR/Red Deer Rebels)
‘It was a rollercoaster’: Rebels’ graduating players look back on wild season

The nerves. Even three and a half years later, Josh Tarzwell still… Continue reading

Red Deer Mayor Tara Veer addressed the city in a Facebook Live video Wednesday and asked citizens to continue to be diligent in the battle against COVID-19. (Photo by LANA MICHELIN/Advocate staff).
‘It’s affecting us all’: Veer encourages city to come together in response to COVID-19

Red Deer Mayor Tara Veer is gravely concerned about the growing COVID-19… Continue reading

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Chrystia Freeland joins Prime Minister Justin Trudeau as they participate in a virtual discussion from Ottawa on Monday, May 3, 2021, with seniors from Residence Memphremagog in Magog, Quebec. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Federal budget ‘overstates’ economic impact of stimulus spending, budget officer says

OTTAWA — Parliament’s spending watchdog says the federal Liberals’ budget overestimates how… Continue reading

A dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccination is prepared at a mobile clinic for members of First Nations and their partners, in Montreal, Friday, April 30, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Health Canada maintains getting immunized ASAP with any vaccine offered is best

OTTAWA — Health Canada’s chief medical adviser says her advice has not… Continue reading

FILE - This Sunday, April 10, 2011 picture shows a rig and supply vessel in the Gulf of Mexico, off the cost of Louisiana. Thirteen states sued the Biden administration Wednesday, March 24, 2021 to end a suspension of new oil and gas leases on federal land and water and to reschedule canceled sales of offshore leases in the Gulf of Mexico, Alaska waters and western states. The Republican-leaning states, led by Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry, seek a court order ending the moratorium imposed after Democratic President Joe Biden signed executive orders on climate change on Jan. 27.     (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)
Report finds climate change rarely part of Atlantic Canada’s fisheries management

ST. JOHN’S, N.L. — Climate change is rarely factored into management decisions… Continue reading

Pharmacist Barbara Violo shows off a vile of the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine after providing doses to customers at the Junction Chemist, which is a independent pharmacy, during the COVID-19 pandemic in Toronto on Friday, March 12, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
New Brunswick reports blood clot death in connection with Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine

FREDERICTON — New Brunswick health officials on Wednesday reported the province’s first… Continue reading

FILE PHOTO
Avoid mixed messaging with any mix-and-match vaccine plan: CEO

Public health doctors and immunologists in Canada are calling for a wait-and-see… Continue reading

Passengers from New Delhi wait in long lines for transportation to their quarantine hotels at Pearson Airport in Toronto on Friday April 23, 2021. Transport Minister Omar Alghabra says the resumption of international travel requires a coordinated approach for testing and a common platform for recognizing the vaccinated status of travellers. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
Canada supports ‘common platform’ to recognize vaccine status of travellers: Alghabra

OTTAWA — Transport Minister Omar Alghabra says the resumption of international travel… Continue reading

Toronto FC midfielder Richie Laryea (22) and Vancouver Whitecaps midfielder Caio Alexandre (8) compete for the ball during the second half of an MLS soccer match, Saturday, April 24, 2021, in Orlando, Fla. Unable to dig itself out of a deep first-leg hole, Toronto FC exited the Scotiabank CONCACAF Champions League on Tuesday at the hands of Cruz Azul. THE CANADIAN/AP/Phelan M. Ebenhack
Toronto FC exits CONCACAF Champions League at the hands of Mexico’s Cruz Azul

Mexico to face either MLS champion Columbus Crew SC or Monterrey in the August semifinals

Most Read