Conditions are ripe for a major Atlantic hurricane in 2020

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National Geographic: Emergency responders in the United States are already stretched thin by a pandemic and western wildfires, and states along the Atlantic coast and the Gulf of Mexico have yet to see the worst of what’s predicted to be an active and potentially destructive hurricane season.

“Things are unfortunately shaping up to be an active hurricane season in the Atlantic, which is probably not what people are wanting to hear,” says Phil Klotzbach, a meteorologist at Colorado State University who specializes in Atlantic Ocean hurricanes.

Colorado State University, which puts out its own seasonal hurricane forecasts, predicts that four major hurricanes–hurricanes Category 3 or higher with winds surpassing 111 miles per hour—will take shape this year.

Why is this season so busy?

A number of climactic conditions can influence how easily hurricanes form, but they essentially boil down to temperature and wind.

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Warm water acts like fuel for hurricanes, and sea surface temperatures so far this year along the East Coast, Gulf of Mexico, and Caribbean Sea are well above average. Hurricanes begin as thunderstorms over the ocean. Fueled by heat from warm waters, those thunderstorms create alternating patterns of low and high pressure that continuously pull warm ocean water into the atmosphere. The warmer the water, the more tightly the hurricane spins and the more water it can hold.

Last year, warm September waters in the Caribbean Sea allowed Hurricane Dorian to dump a devastating amount of rain over the Bahamas.

Currently, Atlantic surface waters are the fourth warmest they’ve been since NOAA began keeping records in 1982. The only years water has been warmer are 2005, 2010, and 2017, which bore witness to Hurricanes Katrina and Maria, two of the most devastating natural disasters to strike the Atlantic basin.

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Editorial Staff
Editorial Staff
Our Editorial Staff at St. Lucia Times is a team publishing news and other articles to over 200,000 regular monthly readers in Saint Lucia and in over 150 other countries worldwide.

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