Based on the newest forecasting models, AccuWeather’s hurricane team, led by hurricane expert Dan Kottlowski, is predicting 14 to 20 tropical storms, with 11 becoming hurricanes.
Kottlowski predicts that six of the 11 will become major hurricanes—Category 3 or higher. Kottlowski warns that four to six named tropical systems could make direct impacts on the U.S mainland, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.
The 2020 season follows four straight years during which there were at least two U.S.-landfalling hurricanes, with Barry and Dorian striking in 2019. That’s the longest streak since 1947-50 and only twice since 1851 has the streak reached at least five years (1932-36 and 1876-82). The 2019 hurricane season included 10 tropical storms, two subtropical storms, two Category 1 hurricanes, one Category 2 hurricane and three major hurricanes.
“The biggest issue with this season is this trend going from a weak El Niño to a neutral pattern then to a possible La Niña,” Kottlowski said. “This climate signal pattern has been associated with above-normal seasons. The big question is just how active is it going to be?”
The 2005 Atlantic hurricane season is widely regarded as “by far the most active and worst season on record,” Kottlowski said. “Just the number of storms and the number of big storms was outrageous.”
There were a record 27 named storms (breaking the 1933 record of 21) with 14 hurricanes—exceeding the record of 12 in 1969—and seven major hurricanes (Category 3 or higher on the Saffir-Simpson Scale), according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Hurricanes Katrina, Rita and Wilma that year are among the most destructive hurricanes in U.S. history.
“The 2020 season will be very active, but not as active as the real hyperactive season of 2005,” Kottlowski said. “There is a growing concern,” he added, “that this season will be another very active one, at least on par with what we have seen the past four years.”
The Atlantic hurricane season officially lasts from June 1 through November 30, when 98.4 percent of hurricanes have occurred in the Atlantic Basin. Counting 2019, all 297 hurricanes that have made landfall in the continental U.S. since 1851 occurred during hurricane season.
The first tropical storm to develop this year will be named Arthur. For a complete list of names for the 2020 season and everything related to tropical weather, visit the AccuWeather Atlantic basin hurricane center.