4 Major Hurricanes Are Possible in 'Above Normal' Season, Researchers Predict

The team at Colorado State University said there's a 69 percent chance that at least one major hurricane will hit along the continental U.S. coastline

Jensen Beach, Florida Hurricane Dorian

Researchers are warning the East Coast to brace for a possible increase in hurricanes this year.

The upcoming 2020 season, which begins in June and goes through November, “will have above-normal activity,” according to an annual prediction from researchers at Colorado State University.

The team says there’s a 69 percent chance that at least one major hurricane will hit along the continental U.S. coastline, a bump up from the average of 52 percent.

Anything Category 3 or higher with sustained low-level wind of at least 111 mph is considered a major hurricane, while a regular hurricane is a tropical cyclone that reaches winds of 74 mph or greater.

A release from the university estimates that the 2020 season will have about eight hurricanes, 16 named storms and four major hurricanes.

The average for each category is typically lower on all fronts: about six hurricanes, 12 named storms and three major hurricanes.

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Meanwhile, the university predicts a 58 percent chance that the Caribbean will be hit with at least one major hurricane, which is above the 42 percent average.

The release said that the forecast is based on “a new extended-range early April statistical prediction scheme that was developed using 38 years of past data.”

That scheme includes analysis of things like sea surface temperatures in the Atlantic Ocean (which the university says are a bit above average), the presence of El Niño in the tropical Pacific Ocean and “the phase of a natural oscillation in the Atlantic Basin called the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation,” CBS News explains.

The university acknowledged in its release that it was “impossible” to exactly predict the season’s hurricane activity early on, but that they “would never issue a seasonal hurricane forecast unless we had models developed over a long hindcast period which showed skill.”

“We issue these forecasts to satisfy the curiosity of the general public and to bring attention to the hurricane problem,” the researchers added. “As is the case with all hurricane seasons, coastal residents are reminded that it only takes one hurricane making landfall to make it an active season for them. They should prepare the same for every season, regardless of how much activity is predicted.”

Last year saw a number of storms, including six hurricanes, 18 named storms and three major hurricanes, according to the Insurance Information Institute.

This year’s storms will come as the U.S. work through the devastation of the coronavirus outbreak, which as of Friday afternoon had at least 258,611 cases and killed 6,660 in the U.S., according to the New York Times.

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