Above-normal hurricane season predicted

Forecasters predict 16 named storms, with four Cat 3 or stronger

Special to the Lake Okeechobee News/NOAA
Hurricane Matthew, in 2016, was a Category 5 storm that caused severe damage to the Greater Antilles and the Bahamas.

Florida could be in for an above-average hurricane season, according to forecasters at Colorado State University.

On April 2, Philip J. Klotzbach, Michael M. Belle and Jhordanne Jones released the “Extended Range Forecast of Atlantic Seasonal Hurricane Activity and Landfall Strike Probability for 2020.”

The report predicts 16 named storms and four major hurricanes of Category 3 or higher.

Hurricane categories are based on wind speed: Cat 1, 74-95 mph; Cat 2, 96-110 mph; Cat 3, 11-129 mph; Cat 4, 130-156 mph; Cat 5, 157 mph and higher.
The forecast is based on a prediction scheme that uses 38 years of statistical data.

“Coastal residents are reminded that it only takes one hurricane making landfall to make it an active season for them, and they need to prepare the same for every season, regardless of how much activity is predicted,” the researchers stated.

“Everyone should realize it is impossible to precisely predict the season’s hurricane activity in early April. There is, however, much curiosity as to how global ocean and atmospheric features are presently arranged as regards to the probability of an active or inactive hurricane season for the coming year,” they wrote.

Forecasts are based on the premise that those global and atmospheric conditions which preceded comparatively active or inactive hurricane seasons in the past provide meaningful information about similar trends in future seasons, they explained.

The forecasts do not specifically predict where within the Atlantic basin the storms will strike.

“The probability of landfall for any one location along the coast is very low and reflects the fact that, in any one season, most U.S. coastal areas will not feel the effects of a hurricane no matter how active the individual season is,” they added.

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