Colorado State unveils first look at 2020 hurricane season

1280px-2019_Atlantic_hurricane_season_summary_map

The 2019 hurricane season was a busy one, but it mostly spared Florida. Will we be as lucky in 2020? (Image credit: NOAA/ NHC/ NASA)

LOOKING AHEAD TO 2020: Another active Atlantic hurricane season may be on the horizon for the Atlantic Basin in 2020, Colorado State University researchers said in an analysis released Thursday. But the El Niño forecast for next summer and fall is a huge unknown, and could swing next year’s tropical storm season in the other direction.

The projection, by CSU’s Philip Klotzbach, Michael Bell and Jhordanne Jones, calls for a 45 percent chance of total Accumulated Cyclone Energy (ACE — a measure of the strength and duration of all storms combined) of between 130-170. They put chances of an 80 ACE season at 45 percent; and a 50 ACE season at 10 percent.

A 170 ACE season typically has 14-17 named storms, nine to 11 hurricanes, and four or five major hurricanes. At the bottom end, an 80 ACE season has eight to 11 named storms, three to five hurricanes and one or two major hurricanes.

The 2019 season had an ACE of 130, with 18 named storms. A near-normal season has an ACE less than 103, according to NOAA. The average season has 12 named storms.

In addition to the presence of lack of an El Niño in the Pacific — above normal water temperatures that create wind shear in the Atlantic — forecasters also keep a close eye on the Atlantic Multi-Decadal Oscillation, which affects sea surface temperatures in the North Atlantic.

“The Atlantic had three quiet hurricane seasons from 2013-2015, followed by a slightly above-average season in 2016, near record-breaking levels of activity in 2017 and slightly above-average seasons in 2018 and 2019,” they said. “Four above-average seasons lends confidence that the AMO remains in a positive phase, although the far North Atlantic has generally been characterized by below-average sea surface temperatures (SSTs).

“Another big question for 2020 is how El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) will trend over the next few months. As is typically the case at this time of year, there is considerable model disagreement as to what the phase of ENSO will look like for the summer and fall of 2020.”

The December analysis is considered a “qualitative discussion” by CSU and only suggests typical season numbers based on ACE. The first “formal forecast” will be released on April 2.

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RAINFALL REPORT: More than 4 inches of rain soaked the Palm City area in northeastern Martin County during a 24-hour period from Wednesday morning to Thursday morning, according to the citizen observation network, CoCoRaHS.

Totals of 2-3 inches were common in the Stuart area and in southern Saint Lucie County.

A couple of observers to the south in eastern Palm Beach County and northeastern Broward County measured around 2 inches, but most areas picked up a third- to around a half-inch. And 1-2 inches fell in the Middle Keys.

Southwest Florida was a little drier and only a few hundredths of an inch fell in the Tampa area.

Still, it was the most significant rainfall of the month so far, and more was in the forecast as the frontal boundary that skidded into South Florida makes a U-turn and heads back to the north.

Drier air moves in for the end of the weekend but then another front on Tuesday increases rain chances again, according to the National Weather Service.

RECORD WATCH: Fort Myers set a record high Wednesday with 87 degrees. That beat the old record high for the date of 86 set in 1961. Miami tied a record high with 85, last set in 2012.

Author: jnelander

Freelance writer and editor

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