April 16, 2021

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Atlantic hurricane season on pace to be one of the worst in recorded history

People walk through floodwaters on Ocean Blvd. August 3, 2020 in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.

Sean Rayford | Getty Images

The Atlantic hurricane season is on pace to become one of the worst in recorded history, forecasters at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Climate Prediction Center said on Thursday.

The 2020 season has started off with a record-setting nine named storms so far and could become “extremely active” in the coming months due to hotter-than-average sea surface temperatures in the tropical Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean Sea. 

Forecasters have predicted an active season because of warmer ocean temperatures driven by climate change, but the 2020 season is on pace to break records. 

Climate change has triggered more intense and frequent weather disasters like hurricanes and wildfires, both of which hit different parts of the U.S. this week during a worsening pandemic

“This is one of the most active seasonal forecasts that NOAA has produced in its 22-year history of hurricane outlooks,” U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross said in a statement. “We encourage all Americans to do their part by getting prepared, remaining vigilant, and being ready to take action when necessary.”

Weaker tropical Atlantic trade winds and an enhanced west African monsoon will also make storm conditions worse, along with a potential La Nina event that could contribute to more intense storms over the Atlantic, NOAA said. 

The hurricane season, which runs from June 1 to Nov. 30., is set to have 19 to 25 named storms, with 7 to 11 of those storms to develop into hurricanes. NOAA predicts that there will be 3 to 6 major hurricanes with winds greater than 111 miles per hour. 

Hurricane Isaias made landfall in the Carolinas on Monday with 75 mile-an-hour winds and a 5-foot storm surge, and downgraded to a tropical storm the next day as it battered the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic area with heavy rain and winds. Isaias marked the ninth storm and the second hurricane of the 2020 Atlantic season. 

“It is now more important than ever to stay informed with our forecasts, have a preparedness plan and heed guidance from local emergency management officials,” NOAA administrator Neil Jacobs said in a statement. 

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