How was the 2020 hurricane season?

Preliminary tropical storm tracks for the 2020 Atlantic hurricane season. (Image credit: NOAA’s National Hurricane Center)

The 2020 Atlantic hurricane season ends today and will go down as the most active hurricane season on record.

A total of 30 named storms, 13 hurricanes, and six major hurricanes have formed throughout the season. Twelve of the named storms made landfall in the contiguous United States, breaking the record of nine set in 1916.

This season also has featured a record 10 tropical cyclones that have undergone rapid intensification, tying it with 1995. This was only the second season — the other was in 2005 — to use the Greek alphabet to name storms.

The Atlantic hurricane season officially starts June 1 and ends Nov. 30, but tropical storms can appear at any time. The 2020 season began with subtropical storm Arthur, which formed on May 16, followed by Bertha on May 27.

The 2020 season was the sixth consecutive year in which the hurricane season began before the official start of June 1. Hanna was the season’s first hurricane, which reached hurricane intensity on July 25 and made landfall in southern Texas. The 2020 season included the most active September on record with 10 named storms.

The 2020 season featured one Category 5 hurricane, which is a storm with sustained winds over 156 mph. Named Iota, this was the only the second time in recorded history that a Category 5 hurricane occurred in November, and it is the latest-forming Category 5 hurricane on record. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration did predict an abnormally active hurricane season this year, but not the record-breaking one we experienced. All told, this season caused more than $41 billion in damage and resulted in more than 436 deaths.

Steve Ackerman and Jonathan Martin, professors in the UW-Madison Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences, are guests on WHA radio (970 AM) at 11:45 a.m. the last Monday of each month.

Category: Meteorology, Severe Weather, Tropical

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