The year 2020 will be remembered for ton of things; rather it's the launching of the SpaceX program or the Kansas City Chiefs winning the Super Bowl in February. Who are we kidding? Excitement or even normality was a rarity for most people around the world for 'obvious' reasons. However, the Atlantic Ocean Basin this year was marching to a beat of its own drum.
The 2020 Atlantic hurricane season began June 1 and ended November 30. However, this year the Atlantic produced its first named-tropical storm 16 days before the start date. Both Tropical Storm Arthur and Bertha develop days before the official start of the season. The two named storms also made landfall along the Atlantic coastline in Florida (Arthur) and South Carolina (Bertha).
We were off to the races by June and July with 7 named storms jammed-packed within a 50-day period. The active season was quite disruptive but did not come to no surprise to the meteorology community. Back in April and May the Colorado State University Tropical Meteorology Project team predicted an above-average Atlantic hurricane season. The team forecasted 16 named storms, including eight hurricanes. Second to that, the Climate Prediction Center (CPC) at National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) concurred forecasting a 60% chance for an above-normal season. The CPC also predicting a 70% chance of having 13 to 19 named storms, of which 6 to 10 could develop into hurricanes, including three to six major hurricanes (Categories 3-5).
One of the key factors that fueled the unprecedented season was a strong La Nina pattern. Another controversial component was the warmer sea-surface temperatures that was maintained through the cooler months prior to the season starting. Many have blamed the extended warmer temperatures on climate change. This theory gets especially highlighted this year with a record 10 tropical cyclones that underwent rapid intensification; which is when a tropical cyclone intensifies dramatically in a short period of time (>35 MPH in a 24-hour timespan).
Although we had a record-breaking 30 named tropical storms. The was only ranked the 7th costliest (>$41 billion) and caused 436 deaths. Out of the 30 storms, 13 became hurricanes and 6 were major hurricanes (category 3 or higher). This is only the second time in the history (first 2005) forecasters used the Greek Alphabet to name storms. The strongest storm was Hurricane Iota that strengthen into a Category 5 packing winds of 160 MPH which made landfall in Central America. In the U.S. we recorded a record-breaking 10 named storms that made landfall. Hurricane Delta was the strongest storm that impacted the U.S. At Delta's height it packed sustained winds of 145 MPH before slamming the Louisiana coastline. Needless to say, the Atlantic Ocean is in definite need of a break this winter and spring season.