Pre-hurricane Season Summary – 2020

1 06 2020

Dale C. S. Destin|

It is June too soon – the Atlantic hurricane season officially starts today. However, it seems like no one remembered to remind the “storm gods” of this fact. Already, we have seen two named storms – Arthur and Bertha, resulting in a very active pre-hurricane season 2020. Only twice on record before, dating back to 1842, that May has produced two named storms – 2012 and 1887.

Arthur formed on May 16, just north of the northern Bahamas. It moved north to near the Outer Banks of North Carolina, then out over the Atlantic and lost its tropical characteristics. It caused tropical storm force winds across a small portion of North Carolina and reached peak sustained winds of 97 kph (60 mph).

Tracks of Tropical Storms Arthur (right) and Bertha (left)

Bertha was a bit of a surprise storm. Formation was not expected due to strong upper-level wind shear. On the morning of 12:50 am, May 27, it was given a 30% chance of formation and by 8:30 am, it was declared a tropical storm with sustained winds of 72 kph (45 mph). It eventually reached peak sustained wind speed of 80 kph (50 mph), before dissipating on May 28. The system caused one death.

In terms of pre-season storms – storms forming between March and May, there have been only four occasions when there were two named storms – 2012, 1951, 1908 and 1887. Of course, I am mindful that before the satellite era – pre mid-1960s, a number of short-lived storms went undetected, resulting in gaps in the record.

On average, there is a storm in May once every 7 to 8 years, based on record for the period 1981-2010, whereas, there is a preseason storm once every 5 years. Most pre-season storms form in May – about 85%, 9% in April and 6% in March.

Preseason storms say nothing about the season they precede, in terms of how active or inactive they will be. However, this season is expected to be active and likely to be hyperactive – well above normal.

We all need to be prepared for the hurricane season regardless of the number of storms and hurricanes being forecast, as it only takes one hurricane to ruin our year or life.

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