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Hurricane season coming; above-average activity predicted amidst COVID-19 concerns

Posted: Thursday, May 7, 2020. 4:12 pm CST.

By Aaron Humes: The countdown is on for the 2020 Atlantic hurricane season, which begins on June 1.

Unusually warm sea surface temperatures (SSTs) during the first quarter of this year, in two distinct parts of the globe, are among the main factors that pushed Colorado State University (CSU)’s forecast toward the high side.

—Warm SSTs across the eastern Atlantic, from the tropics to latitude 50°N, are associated with weaker trade winds, lower surface pressures, and warmer SSTs over the tropical Atlantic during the subsequent hurricane season.

—Warm SSTs in the Coral Sea, northeast of Australia, tend to inhibit the development of El Niño, which typically acts to suppress hurricane development in the Atlantic.

Researchers at Colorado State are predicting 16 named storms, of which eight are forecast to become hurricanes. Four are expected to reach major hurricane strength with winds greater than 111 miles per hour. This is only the fifth time this many storms have been predicting and in each of the previous four times, at least 14 storms were recorded.

The average season features 12 named storms, six hurricanes and four major hurricanes.

In the case of Belize, meteorologists here say regardless of the long-term forecast, it only takes one storm to change everything. So Belizeans must be prepared with their hurricane plans including provisions, securing their houses and other valuables and so on.

The 2020 Atlantic Hurricane Season runs from June 1 to November 30, and will include the names: Arthur, Bertha, Cristobal, Dolly, Edouard, Fay, Gonzalo, Hanna, Isaias, Josephine, Kyle, Laura, Marco, Nana, Omar, Paulette, Rene, Sally, Teddy, Vicky, and Wilfred.

According to USA Today, some officials have expressed concerns about the hurricane season potentially exacerbating the effects of the ongoing 2019–20 coronavirus pandemic, with Wilmington, North Carolina mayor Bill Saffo describing it as a “nightmare scenario”, and former director of the Florida Division of Emergency Management, Brian Koon saying “Even FEMA could be overwhelmed”. Evacuation, for instance, would be significantly hindered due to fears of contracting the virus and social distancing rules would break down when giving aid to hurricane-affected areas.


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