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Pressure Rises as August Approaches Bringing High Hurricane Season

Updated Forecast Escalates Number of Named Storms from 16 to 20


Now only a few weeks away, August marks a sharp increase in tropical activity due to warmer ocean temperatures and an increase in thunderstorm activity over Africa. Known as the beginning of the Cabo (or Cape) Verde season, tropical storms and hurricanes tend to form more often during this time in the central or eastern Atlantic. Cabo Verde is the archipelago west of Africa. Hurricanes Andrew, Ivan, Irma and Maria were Cabo Verde storms.


According to the Weather Channel, there are several factors that contribute to the sudden momentum in August storm activity:



  • African easterly waves are most developed, often serving as a seed for tropical development.


  • Saharan air layers, surges of dry air into the central and eastern Atlantic Basin that normally squelch tropical development in those areas, tend to give way by August as the parade of African easterly waves gradually add moisture. This effectively opens up more favorable real estate for tropical cyclone development.


  • Wind shear, the change in wind speed and/or direction with height, which can rip apart a tropical cyclone wannabe, tends to be low.


  • Sea-surface temperatures rise toward a peak in early fall.


  • Instability – the atmosphere's ability to generate convection (thunderstorms) to help initiate tropical cyclones – also rises toward an early fall peak.


In their July 7 updated hurricane forecast, the Colorado State University (CSU) meteorology team stated they are still anticipating above-normal probability for major hurricanes making landfall along the continental United States coastline and in the Caribbean. The forecast for the number of named storms has risen from the previous report of 16 to 20. Nine of the storms are expected to become hurricanes, with four becoming major hurricanes of Category 3 or higher on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale.



The recent report contains information gathered through June 2020 and indicates that the 2020 Atlantic hurricane season will have activity above the 1981-2010 average. According to the CSU team, the early July forecast has relatively good long-term skill when evaluated in hind cast mode.



The report also stated that the Atlantic basin has the largest year-to-year variability of any of the global tropical cyclone basins.

Meteorologists use a unit of measure called the Accumulated Cyclone Energy (ACE) index to determine a named storm’s potential for wind and storm surge destruction, which is defined as the sum of the square of a named storm’s maximum wind speed (in 10⁴ knots²) for each 6-hour period of its existence. The 1981-2010 average value of this parameter is 106 for the Atlantic basin. The ACE forecast as of July 7, 2020, is 160.


What’s in a Hurricane Name


The Atlantic tropical cyclone names for the 2020 season are Arthur, Bertha, Cristobal, Dolly, Edouard, Fay, Gonzalo, Hanna, Isaias, Josephine, Kyle, Laura, Marco, Nana, Omar, Paulette, Rene, Sally, Teddy, Vicky, and Wilfred. The season has already brought six named storms with Tropical Storm Fay being the most recent and the earliest tropical storm that begins with an "F" on record. The previous record was set on July 21, 2005.



Hurricanes are named by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), an intergovernmental organization with a membership of 193 member states and territories. A list of upcoming hurricane names through 2025 is available on the National Hurricane Center website at https://www.nhc.noaa.gov/aboutnames.shtml.

The lists are used in rotation and recycled every six years. A change in the list would occur only in the event a storm is so deadly or costly that the future use of its name on a different storm would be inappropriate or insensitive. When this happens, the storm name in question is removed from the list by the WMO committee and another name is selected to take its place. Several names have been retired since the lists were created.


Available in a downloadable format, to read the complete July 7 updated hurricane forecast, visit the CSU website at https://tropical.colostate.edu/Forecast/2020-07.pdf.

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