North Atlantic tropical storm seasonal forecast 2020
Tropical storm seasonal forecast for the June to November period
Forecast for June to November 2020
Issued 20 May 2020
The most likely number of named tropical storms (winds of at least 39 mph) predicted to occur in the North Atlantic during the June to November period is 13, with a 70% chance that the number will be in the range 9 to 17. The 1981-2010 long-term average is 12.
The most likely number of hurricanes (winds of at least 74 mph) predicted to occur in the North Atlantic during the June to November period is 7, with a 70% chance that the number will be in the range 5 to 9. The 1981-2010 long-term average is 6.
The most likely number of major hurricanes (winds of at least 111 mph) predicted to occur in the North Atlantic during the June to November period is 3, with a 70% chance that the number will be in the range 2 to 4. The 1981-2010 long-term average is 3.
An ACE index of 110 is predicted as the most likely value, with a 70% chance that the index will be in the range 66 to 154. The 1981-2010 average is 103.
Note: Tropical Storms Arthur and Bertha occurred in May 2020 and are therefore outside the period covered by this prediction (June-November).
'Tropical cyclone' is the generic term for a low-pressure system over tropical or subtropical waters, with intense convective activity (e.g. thunderstorms) and winds circulating in an anticlockwise direction in the northern hemisphere (clockwise in the southern hemisphere). A tropical storm is a tropical cyclone with mean wind speeds of at least 39 mph. The terms hurricane and typhoon are region-specific names for strong tropical cyclones with wind speeds of at least 74 mph.
The North Atlantic tropical storm season usually runs from June to November. The degree of activity over the whole season varies from year to year and is measured in several ways.
- Total number of tropical storms. The number of named tropical cyclones with winds of at least 39 mph observed over the season. This is the best known measure of the level of storm activity. In this forecast the number of tropical storms also includes those that reach hurricane and major hurricane strength (see below).
- Total number of hurricanes. The number of tropical cyclones that reach sustained winds of at least 74 mph.
- Total number of major hurricanes. The number of tropical cyclones that reach sustained winds of at least 111 mph.
- The Accumulated Cyclone Energy (ACE) index. A measure of the collective intensity and duration of all named tropical storms, hurricanes and major hurricanes during the season.
The table below shows the number of tropical storms, hurricanes, major hurricanes and ACE index observed in recent years.
|Year||Tropical storms||Hurricanes||Major hurricanes||ACE index|
At the start of each North Atlantic season the Met Office forecasts the number of tropical storms, hurricanes, major hurricanes and ACE index. Seasonal forecasts of tropical storm activity have been issued annually since 2007. See our previous seasonal tropical storm forecasts for 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010 , 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2019.
The forecast is made using information from the Met Office global dynamical seasonal forecast system, GloSea5, which is an ensemble prediction system based on a fully coupled ocean-atmosphere general circulation model (GCM; MacLachlan et al., 2014). This system simulates the ocean-atmosphere processes and interactions that determine tropical storm development. Multiple forecasts are made (using ensemble forecasting methods) to allow estimation of the range of likely outcomes. The ensemble is then used to produce a best-estimate (or most-likely) predicted value (the ensemble mean) and forecast range (using the spread in the ensemble outcomes). Further details on the forecast method can be found in Camp et al. (2015).
Recent studies have shown that dynamical models have considerable skill predicting the number of tropical storms - for example successfully predicting the change from the exceptionally active season of 2005 to the below-normal activity of the 2006 season. More recently, the GloSea5 seasonal forecast system successfully predicted the above-average activity that was observed in the North Atlantic during 2017, including the high frequency of tropical cyclone tracks around the northeast Caribbean (Camp et al., 2018). Full details of the skill of GloSea5 to predict tropical storm activity around the world has been documented by Camp et al. (2015).
The table below shows the seasonal forecast values issued on 20 May 2020 for the June-November 2020 period together with the end of season observed values. This season the observed number of tropical storms, number of hurricanes, number of major hurricanes and ACE index were each outside the 70% forecast ranges.
|Most likely number||70% forecast range||Observed number|
|Tropical storms||13||9-17||28 *|
|ACE Index||110||66-154||179 *|
* Arthur and Bertha formed in May outside the June-November forecast period, so are not included.
A public forecast for the June to November 2021 period in the Atlantic will be issued in May 2021.
Camp, J., Roberts, M., MacLachlan, C., Wallace, E., Hermanson, L., Brookshaw, A., Arribas, A., Scaife, A. A., (2015). Seasonal Forecasting of Tropical Storms Using the Met Office GloSea5 Seasonal Forecast System. Q.J.R. Meteorol. Soc, 141: 2206-2219.
Camp, J., Scaife, A. A., Heming, J. (2018). . Atmos Sci Lett. 2018; 19:e813.
MacLachlan, C., Arribas, A., Peterson, K. A., Maidens, A., Fereday, D., Scaife, A. A., Gordon, M., Vellinga, M., Williams, A., Comer, R. E., Camp, J., Xavier, P., Madec, G., (2015). Global Seasonal Forecast System version 5 (GloSea5): a High-Resolution Seasonal Forecast System. Q.J.R. Meteorol. Soc., 141: 1072-1084.
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