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Photo: NASA, HO / NYT
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An above-normal Atlantic hurricane season is expected this year, including three to six major storms with winds over 111 mph, according to a forecast released Thursday by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
This would make 2020 the fifth consecutive above-normal hurricane season.
And this year has already seen a named storm: Tropical Storm Arthur. The earlier appearance of hurricanes in recent years has led to some calls for an earlier official start to the season, which now is defined as running from June 1 through Nov. 30.
The outlook predicts a 60 percent chance of an above-normal season, a 30 percent chance of a near-normal season and only a 10 percent chance of a below-normal season.
NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center is forecasting a likely range of 13 to 19 named storms (winds of 39 mph or higher), of which 6 to 10 could become hurricanes (winds of 74 mph or higher), including 3 to 6 major hurricanes (category 3, 4 or 5; with winds of 111 mph or higher). NOAA provides these ranges with a 70% confidence. An average hurricane season produces 12 major named storms, of which six become hurricanes, including 3 major hurricanes.
The 2019 hurricane season, spanning from June 1 through Nov. 30, produced 18 named storms. Of those, six were hurricanes, and three were “major” hurricanes as a Category 3 or above.
Last year was the fourth consecutive above-normal Atlantic hurricane season, according to NOAA. The years between 1998 and 2001 were the only other period known to have produced four consecutive above-normal seasons. Also in 2019, five tropical cyclones formed in the Gulf of Mexico, which ties a record with 2003 and 1957 for the most storms to form in that region.