PREDICTION: How many more named storms we have left this hurricane season

Weather Blog

GFS model simulation of another hurricane on Oct. 25 (note: this forecast is likely to change)

The 2020 Atlantic hurricane season has been record-setting to this point with 25 named storms, nine hurricanes and three major hurricanes. A record 10 of those storms have made landfall in the United States, and we still have a month and a half left in hurricane season.

So what will the rest of the season bring?

National Hurricane Center climatology shows the frequency of tropical storms and hurricanes drops off significantly in November after a small secondary spike in middle and late October.

On average, only two named storms form between mid-October and the end of the season on Nov. 30. But this season has been anything but average, with more than twice the amount of named storms we typically see.

To better predict the future we often look to the past, and the only analog year for this many tropical storms and hurricanes is the Atlantic season of 2005, which brought 27 named storms in total.

As of this writing, the 2020 hurricane season is running five storms ahead of 2005’s pace, having already used the name Hurricane Delta, whereas in mid-October 2005 we were only on Hurricane Vince. The remaining seven storms that 2005 brought after today’s date formed between Oct. 15 – Dec. 28, when we ended on Tropical Storm Zeta.

Gulf of Mexico water temperatures are running cooler than normal for this time of the year and a generally progressive upper-level wind pattern bringing periodic cold fronts to Texas and the Gulf Coast should largely protect our coast from another hurricane strike this year. But this does not mean the season is over. The Caribbean Sea still has plenty of heat in it, and this is indeed the favored area for storm formation late in the season.

Typical formation areas and tracks of October and November tropical storms (NHC)

Our best long-range computer models are consistently hinting at a Caribbean hurricane developing during the middle or latter part of next week and potentially threatening Florida and the East Coast. This threat looks similar in both timing and track to Hurricane Wilma in October 2005.

Potential storm developing in the Caribbean Sea Friday, Oct. 23

The storm shown above may be the last significant threat of the year for the United States, but a few other inconsequential “fish storms” wandering around the open Atlantic should be expected in late October and November.

Accounting for this, a fair estimate would be that there are four named storms left this hurricane season, ending on Tropical Storm Theta, an all-time record 29th named storm of the season.

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