AccuWeather meteorologists increase forecast for record-breaking 2020 hurricane season
Hurricane Sally's eyewall packed a punch as it pushed through Orange Beach, Alabama, on Sept. 16. The storm made landfall near Gulf Shores as a Category 2 hurricane.
AccuWeather meteorologists upped the number of tropical storms anticipated in the record-setting 2020 Atlantic hurricane season this week, as the last name on the list designated for the season, Wilfred, is likely to be exhausted by week's end. Forecasters, led by veteran hurricane expert Dan Kottlowski, now expect a total of 28 storms, which would tie the record for most storms ever in a season previously set in the notorious 2005 season.
Thirteen hurricanes and six major hurricanes -- Category 3 or stronger -- are predicted in the latest seasonal outlook released this week. In comparison, an average season generates 12 tropical storms, six hurricanes and three major hurricanes.
And the United States has been in the crosshairs of the extremely active season, with eight landfalls already occurring and still about two and half months to go until hurricane season officially ends on Nov. 30. To put that in perspective, three to four landfalls typically occur each year in the U.S.
So far this year, Cristobal and each system from Edouard through Vicky has set a record for the earliest tropical storm for their respective letters in the Atlantic. This trend will likely continue through the rest of the season, AccuWeather meteorologists said.
Eight named storms have made landfall in the United States so far this season.
Forecasters say the Greek alphabet is likely to be tapped by late this week or next week as well. The last and only time the Greek alphabet was used was during the historic 2005 hurricane season that brought devastating storms such as Emily, Katrina, Rita and Wilma. During 2005, six Greek letters from Alpha to Zeta were used with a total of 28 named systems. There is a list of 24 Greek alphabet storm names available to be tapped from Alpha to Omega.
Three hurricanes were swirling at the same time in the Atlantic basin on Wednesday with Sally unleashing havoc over the southern United States, Paulette cruising the North Atlantic and Teddy spinning over the central Atlantic. Tropical Storm Vicky was located several hundred miles east of Teddy.
As of 11 a.m. EDT Thursday, Sally transitioned to a tropical rainstorm, Paulette was non-tropical, despite producing hurricane-force winds, and Teddy had strengthened to a Category 3 hurricane. Vicky weakened to a tropical depression before dissipating around 5 p.m. EDT. Also by 5 p.m. EDT, Teddy had strengthened further to a Category 4 hurricane.
Four named systems -- Sally, Paulette, Teddy and Vicky -- can be seen spinning at the same time on Wednesday morning, Sept. 16, 2020, satellite image above. At least three other candidates for tropical development in the coming days are also visible on the image, according to forecasters. (CIRA at Colorado State/GOES-East)
Former Tropical Storm Rene had fallen apart, but it survived long enough as a depression on Monday for a record number of simultaneous tropical cyclones to be tied. Five tropical cyclones churned at the same time over the basin Monday for the first time since Sept. 10-12, 1971.
"There are several areas being monitored for development this week through this weekend," according to AccuWeather's top hurricane expert Dan Kottlowski.
One system that could soon join the ranks of a tropical depression and/or storm is a strong tropical disturbance centered a few hundred miles southwest of the Cabo Verde Islands, which are located off the northwest coast of Africa.
This Cabo Verde disturbance will move westward the next several days.
This feature was looking impressive on satellite photos on Friday morning with the classic high clouds over top and a circulation evident at the low levels. This system could compete for the next tropical storm name Wilfred or Alpha.
Current projections take this Cabo Verde system northeast of the Leeward Islands, but until a center forms and the system can be reliably tracked, people in the Leewards should closely monitor the feature.
Even if the Cabo Verde feature fails to form, there are other candidates out there that could snag the name Wilfred and potentially the first letters in the Greek alphabet.
One such system, currently a non-tropical storm located to the northeast of the Azores, could slowly acquire tropical characteristics in the next several days.
"The size of the system northeast of the Azores will make this transition rather difficult, so the chance for this to happen is low at this time," Kottlowski said.
Meanwhile, close to North America, over the western Gulf of Mexico, a slow-moving disturbance that caught the eye of AccuWeather meteorologists developed into Tropical Depression 22 early Thursday evening after hurricane hunter aircraft investigated the system.
Both the disturbance near Cabo Verde and the feature in the southwestern Gulf could compete with the names Wilfred and Alpha.
Looking farther ahead, as the train of tropical disturbances continues to move westward across Africa and over the Atlantic, a new system may emerge offshore this weekend.
"This next disturbance from Africa could slowly evolve into a tropical system next week," Kottowski said.
As for existing systems, Teddy, Sally and Tropical Depression 22, it is Teddy that will pose a threat to Bermuda next week since the projected path has shifted farther west from original expectations.
Teddy could hit Bermuda as a major hurricane early next week.
An area of high pressure predicted to slide off the Northeast coast could help to pull the hurricane across Bermuda.
"All residents and interests in Bermuda should closely monitor the progress of Teddy and be prepared for what could be a much stronger hurricane than what was experienced earlier this week with Paulette," Kottlowski said.
There is the risk that a non-tropical weather system develops in the upper atmosphere off the mid-Atlantic coast next week, and it could influence Teddy's movement beyond Bermuda. That system could capture and fling Teddy toward the coast of northern New England or Atlantic Canada toward the middle or latter part of next week.
Meanwhile, the National Hurricane Center (NHC) stated that Paulette transitioned to a non-tropical system at 11 a.m. EDT Wednesday with ongoing 85-mph sustained winds. However, the feature has the potential to linger for many days over the middle of the Atlantic Ocean while stirring winds and seas. The system is forecast to track close enough to the Azores to raise seas and surf and enhance shower and thunderstorms on the islands this weekend. There is a chance that Paulette regenerates to a tropical system once again.
Sally, which made landfall as a Category 2 hurricane at Gulf Shores, Alabama, before daybreak Wednesday morning. Sally brought heavy rain and moderate river flooding to portions of the interior Southeast on Thursday and Thursday night. Sally will exit the coast and likely dissipate this weekend.
Most likely, Sally will not be the last tropical system to make landfall in the U.S. this season with storms likely to form through the end of November and into December this year.
With the vast numbers of tropical systems cruising the Atlantic in the coming days and weeks, beach, boating and shipping interests should exercise caution and keep tabs of changing weather conditions from one day to the next.
Swimmers should be wary of the potential for frequent and strong rip currents. Nearly calm conditions on one day could be followed by rough conditions the next due to movement and changing strength of storms hundreds of miles away that send waves outward, like a plunger effect.
Conditions are likely to get rough along the New England and mid-Atlantic coasts into next week as will the central and western Gulf coast of the Southern states.
Keep checking back on AccuWeather.com and stay tuned to the AccuWeather Network on DirecTV, Frontier and Verizon Fios.Report a Typo
'It felt like the trailer was going to take off.' Alabama residents recount riding out Hurricane Sally
It wasn't the storm sturge or the powerful winds that caused Kathy Dutton to flee, but talking about it the day after moved her to tears.
Tropical Depression 22 forms in the Gulf of Mexico
The newly formed tropical depression could not only set another record in the Atlantic, but it could batter the Gulf Coast's shoreline with pounding waves and pockets of torrential rainfall.
AccuWeather meteorologists increase forecast for record-breaking 2020 hurricane season
Eight tropical systems have already made landfall in the U.S. The slate of names is just about exhausted at this point. And AccuWeather forecasters say much more activity is on the way.
Oregon fire survivors capture 'unimaginable' damage on video
After thousands in the area were forced to evacuate from a fire that ripped through the town of Talent, Oregon, lives of the residents were "put on pause" from the devastation that cost many their homes.
8 must haves for your car's emergency supply kit
You never know when an emergency will happen, but you can plan for one ahead of time. Here are eight must-haves for your car's emergency supply kit.
Athleisure wear that's suitable no matter the weather
These days, athleisure wear has become a go-to choice for many situations. Here are some good T-shirt and pants options that maybe you haven't thought of yet.