LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – The 2020 Atlantic Hurricane Season has only surprised us more and more as the months have passed. From tropical systems landfalling among the same locations multiple times to running out of names on the set 2020 list and having to defer to the Greek alphabet, this year has been nothing short of shocking and record breaking!
The Atlantic Hurricane Season began June 1, 2020, but the first named storm formed about two weeks prior – a sign that this may be a more active season than usual. Though, that’s not to say that tropical systems don’t typically form before June – we’ve seen that happen quite a bit in recent history. The same can be said about storms forming after the official end of the season, November 30. However, on average, the dates between June 1 and November 30 are when tropical activity is seen.
Since mid-May, when Tropical Storm Arthur formed just east of the Carolinas, there have been 29 other named storms this year. With a total of 30 named tropical storms, 2020 now holds the record for the most named storms, the most active hurricane season on record! The previous record was 28 storms in 2005.
2005 was also the only other season that required use of the Greek alphabet to name storms, because there were so many that the list from the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) did not suffice. 2020 is not only in the record books for having to use the Greek alphabet, but it’s the only season on record to go furthest into the Greek alphabet for named storms. As of November 16, 2020, nine Greek alphabet letters have been used. Iota is the last Greek named storm we’ve had, and we’ve never had to use Iota as a name before.
27 of the 30 named storms so far in 2020 have been the earliest to form on record per letter name.
Prior to the beginning of the 2020 Atlantic Hurricane Season, forecasters were already calling for a more active than normal season. In May, NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center (CPC) predicted a 60% chance of an above-normal season. An update to the forecast was released in August, in which NOAA’s CPC outlooked 19-25 named storms, 7-11 hurricanes and 3-6 major hurricanes.
For reference, an average hurricane season (according to records) has 12 named storms, 6 hurricanes and 3 major hurricanes.
Obviously, the 2020 season has been ANYTHING but normal. So far, it has boasted a record 30 named storms, 13 hurricanes and 6 major hurricanes. Of those records, the Greek alphabet has been used for 9 storms, 5 of which were hurricanes and 4 that have been major hurricanes.
On November 16, 2020, Hurricane Iota became the first Category 5 hurricane in the 2020 Atlantic Hurricane Season. It is the strongest hurricane of the year, as well as the latest category 5 hurricane on record to form this late in the year. The only other Category 5 hurricane to form in the month of November was on November 5, 1932.