Forecaster expect above-normal hurricane season

The first of several forecasts for the 2020 Atlantic hurricane season is out, and officials are expecting an above-average hurricane season.

Experts expect 16 named storms, eight hurricanes and four major hurricanes during the Atlantic hurricane season that begins June 1, said Dr. Philip Klotzbach, of Tropical Meteorology Project at Colorado State University.

Klotzbach, who has forecast the Atlantic storm season for years, made the announcement on Facebook and Zoom Wednesday during the annual National Tropical Weather Conference. The conference had been scheduled to take place on South Padre Island but was canceled because of COVID-19 pandemic.

Klotzbach said his forecast is based on the fact that meteorologists don’t anticipate the development of El Niño this hurricane season. An El Niño usually shuts down or weakens the storms in the Atlantic Ocean.

“ This year we do not anticipate El Nino conditions, so we think the (wind) shear levels are going to be somewhat less,”Klotzbach said.

He also said the forecast is based on warmer waters occurring in the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico.

“ In general when the waters are warmer than normal, that tends to provide fuel to the storms, also tends to be associated with a lower pressure and a more unstable atmosphere, all of which tend to be associated with more active hurricane seasons,” Klotzbach said.

An average hurricane season would consist of 12 named storms, six hurricanes and three major hurricanes.

The 2019 Atlantic hurricane season ended with 18 storms, six hurricanes and three major hurricanes. The National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration outlook called for 10 to17 named storms, five to nine hurricanes and two to four major hurricanes.

The Atlantic hurricane season runs from June 1 through Nov. 30.

lmartinez@brownsvilleherald.com