FIRST ALERT WEATHER: Overview of a Historic 2020 Atlantic Hurricane Season
Still over a month left of hurricane season
SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) - With still over a month left of the 2020 Hurricane season, here is a look back at what we have seen so far, and the records that were broken.
In total there have been 25 named storms. Nine of those have been hurricanes, and three have been major hurricanes (Category 3+). Nearly all of these storms broke records for their earliest formation date for their respective letters.
Arthur, Bertha, and Dolly were the only storms that did not have a record-early formation date.
Greek Alphabet Storms
After going through the 2020 Atlantic Tropical Cyclone names, we moved onto the Greek alphabet to name storms. Subtropical Storm Alpha was the first Greek-letter named storm this season, reaching criteria for naming on September 18.
This is only the second time we have used the Greek alphabet to name storms. The first time was in 2005. We are only four storms away from breaking the record of the most active season.
Broke the record for most landfalling storms
This year has set the record for the most landfalling storms. Ten storms have made landfall this year, breaking the previous record of nine landfalling storms set in 1916. While many storms made landfall, many of them were not at their peak intensity upon landfall.
Tied record for most named storms forming in a day
2020 tied a record set on Aug. 15th, 1893 for the most named storms forming in a single day.
On September 18, three named storms formed in just six hours. Tropical Storm Wilfred formed in the eastern Atlantic Ocean. Then Subtropical Storm Alpha formed before making landfall in Portugal. Tropical Storm Beta also formed in the Gulf of Mexico.
Five tropical cyclones at one time
On September 14, the record was tied for the most tropical cyclones in the Atlantic at one time. These storms were Paulette, Rene, Sally, Teddy, and Tropical Depression Twenty-One. T.D. 21 later strengthened to become Tropical Storm Vicky.
September 11-12, 1971 holds the record for most tropical cyclones at one time.
Breaking down the landfalling hurricanes
Hanna was the first hurricane of the 2020 Atlantic Hurricane season. It underwent rapid intensification. On July 23, it was a Tropical Depression, but favorable conditions allowed it to form rapidly into a hurricane within 48 hours. The storm formed off the western Florida coast where it tracked westward across the Gulf. Ultimately making landfall in Mesquite, TX as a Category 1 hurricane. Max winds reached 90 mph with a pressure of 973 mbar.
Isaias began as a tropical wave off the coast of Africa where it tracked across the Pacific and strengthened to a Tropical Storm on July 30. After passing south of Puerto Rico, it made landfall in the Dominican Republic. On July 31, it strengthened to a hurricane. Isaias encountered some strong shear that hurt its development. It made landfall in the Bahamas on August 1. Isaias weakened to a tropical storm, but its path moved north-northwest and road parallel to the Florida and Georgia coastline. It made a third landfall as a Category 1 hurricane in North Carolina. Peak winds with Isaias reached 85 mph with a pressure of 987 mbar.
Hurricane Laura and its interactions with Hurricane Marco
Hurricane Laura devastated southwestern Louisiana. Lake Charles is still recovering now from the Cat. 4 Hurricane, and just over the weekend, those same areas were impacted by Hurricane Delta. Laura began as a tropical wave off the coast of African on August 16, strengthening to Tropical Depression Thirteen on August 20. The next day Laura reached Tropical Storm Strength. Laura was following a very similar path to Hurricane Marco.
Hurricane Marco started as a tropical wave over the central Atlantic on August 16. Initially, Marco hindered Laura’s development. Marco encountered favorable conditions and was named a hurricane on August 23, making it the third hurricane of the season. As Marco neared the southern coastline it entered an area of high shear and weakened to a tropical storm before making landfall on August 24th. Marco left behind favorable conditions for Laura to continue to strengthen.
Laura was right on Marco’s heels and continued to strengthen more than previously expected. It was upgraded to a Cat. 4 status with winds of 140 mph on August 26. Laura made landfall near Cameron, Louisiana with winds upwards of 150 mph. It tied the 1851 record as the strongest hurricane to hit Louisiana. It weakened quickly upon landfall with a track moving eastward and eventually weakening remnants over Kentucky.
Convection rapidly strengthened over the Bahamas on September 10. The next day, the system organized to become a tropical depression. The depression made a brief landfall south of Miami, Florida, before moving into the Gulf where it entered warm waters and low shear. The system strengthened into Tropical Storm Sally, and after rapid intensification on September 14, it strengthened to a Category 1 hurricane. While Sally did strengthen to a Cat. 2 over open waters, it underwent periods of weakening and intensification. Finally, on September 15, it made landfall near Gulf Shores, Alabama. Peak winds with the storm reached 105 mph with 965 mbar pressure.
Hurricane Delta was the most recent storm to make landfall in the U.S. as a Cat. 2 Hurricane on Friday, October 9. It devastated the same areas impacted by Hurricane Laura nearly two months earlier.
Delta made landfall in Creole, which is only 15 miles from where Laura struck.
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