Today marks the beginning of the 2020 hurricane season for the Atlantic Basin. The season runs from 1st June to 30th November each year. However, the formation of tropical cyclones is possible at any time of the year, as shown by the formation of tropical storm Arthur on May 16 and tropical storm Bertha on May 27. The formation of these systems marks the sixth consecutive year a storm has developed before the official start of the season.
The 2020 forecast is suggesting that tropical cyclone activity will be above normal in the Atlantic Basin (North Atlantic Ocean, Caribbean Sea and the Gulf of Mexico). The prediction is for there to be thirteen to nineteen (13 to 19) named storms, of those six to ten (6 to 10) are expected to become hurricanes and three to six (3 to 6) are expected to become major hurricanes (Category 3 or stronger). An average season in the Atlantic Basin consists of twelve (12) named storms, six (6) hurricanes, and two (2) major hurricanes.
The main factors that were used to forecast an active 2020 Atlantic hurricane season are:
(1) No El Nino is expected this year therefore this factor will not contribute to the suppression of tropical cyclone activity in the Atlantic basin.
(2)Warmer than average sea surface temperatures in the tropical Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean Sea, which tends to favour hurricane development.
(3) Weaker vertical wind shear
(4) Weaker tropical Atlantic trade winds
(5) An active west African monsoon
What Does this Mean for Belize?
There is no strong correlation between the number of storms or hurricanes that form in any given season to the number of storms that make landfall in Belize. One or more of the 13 to 19 named storms forecast to develop this season could hit the country, or none at all. Therefore history teaches us, as a nation located in such a vulnerable area, we should be prepared each year no matter what is the forecast is.
Stay up-to-date with your local weather and hurricane forecast with the National Met Service.