Early season tropical storms do not foretell active season

National Hurricane Center forecast to be released Thursday

ORLANDO, Fla.- – While an active 2020 hurricane season has been predicted by several forecast outlets, early season tropical development is not an indication of an active season to come.

For the 6th consecutive year, a named storm has developed prior to the official start of hurricane season June 1. A storm before the official start to the season isn’t all that uncommon. This time of the year cold fronts still visit the Deep South and Caribbean. Those fronts sometimes stall over the warmer waters of the Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean Sea producing tropical or sub-tropical storms. A sub-tropical storm is a part tropical, part non-tropical low pressure system.

Arthur formed in a spot we would expect for a pre-season or early season system. Each tropical storm marker in the graphic below indicates the approximate location where a tropical storm developed. The southeast coast, where Arthur officially became a tropical storm, is a hot spot for pre-season development.

Tropical storms developing in May since 1851.

There have been 15 seasons prior to this one where a storm has formed before June 1. Nine of those seasons did produce an above average season, but four of them were below. The other two were average.

The busiest hurricane season on record, 2005, saw the first storm develop June 8. 2004 was another awful hurricane season especially remembered by Floridians. The first named storm that season didn’t happen until July 31.

If you look at the seasons in terms of the accumulated energy produced per season, the relationship between early season storms and active seasons appears less significant.

When looking at upcoming hurricane seasons, water temperature anomalies and the state of El-Nino Southern Oscillation, the periodic variation of wind and sea surface temperature in the Eastern Pacific, among other things, are much more important and significant factors.

The National Hurricane Center will release their outlook for the 2020 hurricane season Thursday. No matter how many storms are forecast or actually develop, it’s always important to remember that it only takes one.

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About the Author:

Jonathan Kegges joined the News 6 team in June 2019 as the Weekend Morning Meteorologist. Jonathan comes from Roanoke, Virginia where he covered three EF-3 tornadoes and deadly flooding brought on by Hurricanes Florence and Michael.