Danielle Fontenot runs to a relative’s home with her son Hunter in the Hurricane Delta rain on Friday October 9, 2020 in Lake Charles, La.
Gerald Herbert | AP
An unforgiving hurricane season shattered records this year, creating the most iconic Atlantic storms that struck parts of Central America and the US Gulf Coast.
The Atlantic season officially runs from June 1st to November 30th. This year, however, storms formed a few weeks before the beginning of June and continued into November. when hurricane activity usually subsides. And there is no clear end date as Forecasters follow possible developments In December.
One thing is clear, however: no hurricane season in history has had so many storms. There were 30 named storms in the 2020 season, 13 of which were hurricanes. An average season has 12 named storms and six hurricanes, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
The scientists initially predicted an extremely active season, which was due to above-average temperatures in the tropical Atlantic and the Caribbean, as well as an increased West African monsoon. NOAA, in one of the most active perspectives of all time, predicted in August This year, up to 25 named storms would occur, of which up to 11 would develop into hurricanes.
The 2020 season even exceeded those expectations, surpassing the second highest number of 28 storms in 2005, the year Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast.
At the end of the season, scientists warn of even worse hurricane seasons as climate change leads to more frequent and more catastrophic storms.
The World Meteorological Organization ran out of alphabet names for hurricanes in September when tropical storm Wilfred developed in the eastern Atlantic. Meteorologists used Greek letters in 2005, which they have only done once before.
Six of the hurricanes that year were major storms, meaning they were Category 3 or higher and had winds of 110 mph or higher.
The strongest hurricane was Hurricane Iota, which hit Central America and Colombia as the youngest known Category 5 Atlantic hurricane. Iota devastated areas that had already recovered from Hurricane Eta two weeks earlier. It killed more than 50 people in Guatemala and Thousands were displaced in Central America.
The US Gulf Coast was also hit that year. A record of five storms landed in Louisiana, where displaced residents struggling to rebuild were hit by storm after storm. Hurricane Laura in September, one of the strongest storms to ever hit the state, was followed by Hurricane Delta just six weeks later.
Gerry Bell, NOAA’s leading hurricane forecaster, said 18 out of 26 hurricane seasons were above normal and 10 have been extremely active since 1995. With this trend, Bell emphasized the importance of hurricane preparation.
“Many millions of people along the Gulf Coast and the Atlantic coast were affected by these storms,” said Bell. “There’s no question that the planning and preparation of hurricanes has been instrumental in minimizing the loss of life and hardship.”
This year’s season has raised questions about how Climate change affects hurricanes in the Atlantic.
Research shows that climate change makes hurricanes stronger and more destructive, and increases the likelihood of larger hurricanes occurring more frequently.
Models show that global warming increases the likelihood of storms intensifying rapidly as tropical oceans warm up. Rapidly worsening storms, defined as an increase in wind speeds of 35 miles per hour over 24 hours, are difficult to predict and leave little time for people to evacuate.
“”[Rapid intensification] We saw it several times this year, “said Michael Mann, director of Penn State’s Earth System Science Center.” Once again, this phenomenon seems to be associated with unusually warm sea water. “
For example, Hurricane Laura was the fastest intensifying hurricane in the Gulf of Mexico in August. The storm whole houses decimatedkilled more than a dozen people in Louisiana and caused estimated damage of up to $ 12 billion.
The speed of tropical storms landing has also slowed down over the past few decadesThis leads to worse precipitation and flooding. Warming in the Arctic has weakened atmospheric circulation and likely slowed hurricane development by causing a slowdown in the jet stream.
This hurricane season had record water levels in areas like the Gulf Coast where the slow hurricane Sally It stalled over the Gulf of Mexico in September, according to NOAA, and has set record water levels since Katrina in 2005 National Ocean Service Stations.
“The effects of climate change are no longer subtle. We are currently seeing them in the form of unprecedented forest fires in the west and an unprecedented hurricane season in the east,” Mann said.
“It will only get worse if we keep burning fossil fuels and creating carbon pollution,” he added. “This current hurricane season shows the reasons why we need to act on the climate now.”