Record-breaking hurricane season in 2020

2020 December 01: Somewhat overshadowed by a global pandemic, the 2020 Atlantic hurricane season was as devastating as any and more so than many. The U.S. National Hurricane Centre in Miami, Florida used more subdued language, as in “…extremely active, with well above normal activity.”

With 30 named storms forming in the North Atlantic, it was indeed a record-breaking year and a grim reminder that climate change did not stop to make way for COVID-19.

Thirteen of the named storms strengthened to become hurricanes. Six of those became major hurricanes, i.e., category 3 or higher. The long-term average is 12 named storms; six hurricanes; and, three major hurricanes, as reported by the U.S. National Hurricane Centre in Miami, Florida (NHC).

It was only the second time in the history of naming hurricanes that the Greek alphabet was used as a source of names. The first time was in 2005 when the last storm was named Zeta. On September 18, having reached the end of the preselected alphabetical list of 21 names, following the naming of tropical storm Wilfred, the World Meteorological Organization determined that all other storms of 2020 would be given names taken from the Greek alphabet. The first storm so named, Alpha, was identified on that day (September 18).

Increased strength

One major concern lingering after the 2020 hurricane season, which continued deep into November, was the significant increase in the Accumulated Cyclone Energy (ACE). ACE measures the strength and duration of tropical storms and hurricanes. This activity in the Atlantic basin in 2020 was 75% above the long-term mean, the NHC reported.

A month in which normally there is relatively little cyclone activity in the Atlantic, November in 2020 was described by the NHC as “extremely active”. Two tropical cyclones developed during the month. A third, Eta, formed during October. Two of those storms, Eta and Iota, developed into major hurricanes.

The people of Nicaragua will not forget these two hurricanes and the large-scale devastation they left behind. Both made landfall in Nicaragua as major hurricanes close to the same location, Eta on November 3 and Iota on November 17. Iota was the last category 5 hurricane on record in the North Atlantic basin in 2020.

A record 12 named storms made landfall in the United States in 2020. —[]