Experts forecast a highly active Atlantic hurricane season, with up to 6 major storms. The season starts June 1.

Hurricane Dorian is seen sitting over the Bahamas in September 2019.Tropical Tidbits
  • The Atlantic hurricane season begins June 1.
  • Forecasts project 2020 will see an 'above-average' or 'extremely active' hurricane season, with three to six major storms.
  • The odds that a cyclone will become a major hurricane have increased 8% each decade for the last 40 years, according to a study from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
  • Rising global temperatures are making these storms stronger as oceans warm.

Hurricanes are getting stronger and more devastating by the decade, and this season is expected to continue the trend.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) expects the 2020 Atlantic hurricane season, which begins June 1, to be "above-normal," the agency announced on Thursday. That means six to 10 hurricanes, with three to six of those reaching Category 3 or higher (that's considered a "major hurricane").

An average season sees roughly six hurricanes, with three becoming major. But the Atlantic Ocean has been producing highly active hurricane seasons since 1995, according to NOAA.Advertisement

In fact, the odds of any tropical cyclone becoming a major hurricane are increasing as human activity warms the globe. A study from researchers at NOAA and the University of Wisconsin-Madison found that each new decade over the last 40 years has brought an 8% increase in the chance that a storm turns into a major hurricane.

"We have a significantly building body of evidence that these storms have already changed in very substantial ways, and all of them are dangerous," James Kossin, an atmospheric scientist at NOAA and the study's lead author, told the Washington Post.

The findings, published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, are based on 40 years of satellite data.
Advertisement

Aliana Alexis of Haiti stands on the concrete slab of what is left of her home, after destruction from Hurricane Dorian on Great Abaco Island, Bahamas, September 5, 2019.Al Diaz/Miami Herald/Tribune News Service via Getty Images

Hurricanes are getting stronger and wetter because because climate change is causing ocean and air temperatures to climb — 2019 was the second-hottest year on record, and it closed the hottest decade ever recorded. Hurricanes feed on warm water. What's more, higher water temperatures lead to sea-level rise, which increases the risk of flooding during high tides and storms surges. Warmer air also holds more atmospheric water vapor, which enables tropical storms to strengthen and unleash more precipitation.Advertisement

"Almost all of the damage and mortality caused by hurricanes is done by major hurricanes," Kossin told CNN. "Increasing the likelihood of having a major hurricane will certainly increase this risk."

Forecasts project an 'above-average' or 'extremely active' hurricane season

The eye of Hurricane Dorian, as seen by astronaut Nick Hague, aboard the International Space Station, on September 2, 2019.NASA/Nick Hague

More than a dozen forecasts from government agencies, research institutions, and private companies have projected that the 2020 hurricane season will be "above average," with at least six hurricanes, according to CNN. Some are even expecting an "extremely active" season, with more than nine hurricanes.Advertisement

NOAA's announcement Thursday aligned with those other forecasts.

"In general, the consensus between seasonal hurricane forecasts this year is greater than it has been the past few years," Phil Klotzbach, a research scientist at Colorado State University's Department of Atmospheric Science, told CNN.

Storms have already begun to appear, even though the season hasn't started yet. This week, Tropical Storm Arthur, the first named storm in the Atlantic this year, skimmed past the North Carolina coast.Advertisement

On the other side of the globe, Super Cyclone Amphan reached wind speeds equivalent to a Category 5 hurricane on Monday — the strongest storm the Bay of Bengal has ever seen, according to Klotzbach.

The NOAA researchers' findings are yet another piece of evidence that global warming is making these storms more devastating.

"We've just increased our confidence of our understanding of the link between hurricane intensity and climate change," Kossin told the Post. "We have high confidence that there is a human fingerprint on these changes."Advertisement

Read the original article on Business Insider
{{}}