KEY POINTS

  • The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said there could be as many as 25 named storms during the 2020 Atlantic hurricane season.
  • As many as six  of those storms are forecast to be categorized as major hurricanes
  • The NOAA uses the Greek alphabet if it runs out of standard letters.

As the northeastern U.S. still recovers from the after-effects of Tropical Storm Isaias, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration warned that the 2020 Atlantic hurricane season could be the second most active storm season on record.

“This year, we expect more, stronger, and longer-lived storms than average, and our predicted ACE range extends well above NOAA’s threshold for an extremely active season,” NOAA’s chief hurricane seasonal forecaster Gerry Bell said in a press release.

The NOAA said nine named storms have already formed to start off the 2020 season and is predicting between 19 and 25 named storms before the end of the season. Between 7 and 11 of those storms are projected to become hurricanes, with 3 to 6 becoming major hurricanes with winds over 111 mph.

The NOAA said, historically, a typical season produces 12 named storms, six of which hurricanes and three that are major hurricanes.

NOAA’s updated forecast is due to extremely favorable conditions in and around the Caribbean and tropical zones of the Atlantic Ocean. These conditions include “warmer-than-average” surface temperatures, weakened wind shear, weaker trade winds, and an “enhanced west African monsoon.”

Because of the higher number of projected storms, the National Hurricane Center will have to use the Greek alphabet in naming storms.

The NHC is typically allotted 21 names ahead of the year’s hurricane season with the letters Q, U, X, Y and Z not used. Josephine is the next name listed by the NHC for the 2020 season and if the NOAA’s forecast is correct, the Greek alphabet will have to be used to make up for the overflow. The only other time the NHC had to do this was in 2005, which saw a record 28 storms form in the Atlantic.

“This is one of the most active seasonal forecasts that NOAA has produced in its 22-year history of hurricane outlooks,” Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross said. “We encourage all Americans to do their part by getting prepared, remaining vigilant, and being ready to take action when necessary.”

The NOAA did caution its forecast could still change and it does not mean the storms will make landfall.

Hurricane Isaias unleashes flooding, topples trees and knocks out power for thousands Hurricane Isaias unleashes flooding, topples trees and knocks out power for thousands of people in Puerto Rico. Photo: CRISTINA ARRIETA/ESN