Talking the Tropics With Mike: Historic 2020 season recap

Numerous records during long season that started early (May) & ended with strong Nov. hurricanes

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2020 will go down in the record books: most named storms in a single season - 30 (old record: 28/2005)...

* 13 hurricanes - the 2nd most on record...

* 6 “major” (Cat. 3+) hurricanes tied for 2nd most...

* most storms to ever make U.S. landfall: 12 (old record - 9 in 1916)...

* tie (with 1985 & 1886) for the most U.S. hurricane hits in a season: 6...

* 2020 made it a record 5 straight years with an above avg. number of names storms beating the record of 4 years straight from 1998-2001...

* a number of storms intensified - some rapidly - upon approach to land with Hanna, Isaias, Laura, Nana, Paulette, Sally, Eta & Iota increasing by at least 15 mph while approaching land - Laura, Eta & Iota underwent especially rapid intensification - Laura & Eta to Cat. 4 in little more than 24 hours & Iota to a Cat. 5...

* & many storm names were the fastest to get to their respective letter (only Arthur, Bertha & Dolly were not)

* Iota marked the 5th straight year (7 Cat. 5′s in all) with at least one Cat. 5 over the Atlantic Basin - a feat never matched previously. Remarkably - there was at least one U.S. landfall each month from May through Nov.

Seasonal forecasts were “bullish” but still underdone:

The two tables below are from Dr. Phil Klotzbach, Colorado State University:

Another remarkable stat/map: the entire U.S. coastline from Texas to Florida to Maine was under a tropical storm/hurricane &/or storm surge watch or warning in 2020!......

One “major” (Cat. 3+) hurricane landfall along the U.S. coastline was added to the map in 2020 - Cat. 4 Laura near Cameron, Louisiana:


16th: An early start to the season as tropical storm “Arthur” formed east of Jacksonville with the last advisory issued on the 19th over the W. Atlantic

27th: A quick to develop “Bertha” became a tropical storm upon approach to Charleston, SC & moved inland with the last advisory issued the same day.


1st: T.D. #3 formed over the Bay of Campeche (SW Gulf of Mexico) & became tropical storm “Cristobal” on the 2nd with a Mexico landfall on the 3rd.... the storm weakened then turned north with a landfall on the 7th just east of New Orleans as a weak tropical storm with the last advisory on the 8th.

22nd: Subtropical depression forms east of Chesapeake Bay & briefly becomes “Dolly” on the 23rd with the last advisory on the 24th.


4th: T.D. #5 forms SW of Bermuda & becomes “Edouard” on the 5th with last advisory on the 6th

9th: Tropical storm “Fay” develops off the N. Carolina coast & moves north with a landfall on the 10th near Atlantic City, NJ ... the last advisory on the 11th.

21st: T.D. # 7 forms over the Central Atlantic & becomes tropical storm “Gonzalo” on the 22nd... last advisory on the 25th

22nd: T.D. #8 forms & becomes tropical storm “Hanna” on the 23rd over the Gulf of Mexico... makes a Cat. 1 hurricane landfall on the coast of Texas near Corpus Christi on the 25th - pics * here *... last advisory on the 26th.

29th: Tropical storm “Isaias” develops over the NE Caribbean & becomes a hurricane on the 30th north of the Dominican Republic.

31st: T.D. #10 forms over the E. Atlantic


1st: T.D. #10 dissipates... Cat. 1 “Isaias” landfall on Aboco Island, Bahamas... moves east of Jacksonville by 100+ miles on the 2nd... Cat. 1 landfall at 11:15pm EDT at Ocean Beach, NC. - pics * here * - with last advisory on the 5th

13th: T.D. #11 develops over the Central Atlantic & becomes tropical storm “Josephine”.

14th: Tropical storm “Kyle” forms over the NW Atlantic

16th: last “Josephine” & “Kyle” advisories

19th: T.D. #13 forms over the Central Atlantic

20th: T.D. #14 forms over the W. Caribbean & becomes tropical storm “Marco” in the evening

21st: T.D. #13 strengthens into tropical storm “Laura” east of the Leeward Islands

23rd: “Marco” goes hurricane then back to a tropical storm with landfall near the mouth of the Mississippi on the 24th... last advisory on the 25th

27th: Cat. 4 “Laura” landfall at Cameron, Louisiana at 1:50am EDT... last advisory on the 28th. Gulf coast damage pics via the “Washington Post” * here *.

31st: T.D. #15 forms over the W. Atlantic

SEPTEMBER (most named storms to ever develop in a single month - 10!)

1st: Tropical storm “Nana” forms over the Central Caribbean... tropical storm “Omar” over the W. Atlantic... Nana makes landfall as a t.s. on the coast of Belize on the 3rd... last Omar advisory over the Atlantic on the 5th

6th: T.D. #17 forms over the E. Atlantic & becomes “Paulette” on the 7th

7th: T.D. #18 over the E. Atlantic & becomes t.s. “Rene”

11th: T.D. #19 develops just off the SE Fl. coast with a landfall near Miami @ 2am on the 12th

12th: T.D. #19 strengthens into t.s. “Sally” SE Gulf of Mexico... t.d. #20 forms over the E. Atlantic.. “Paulette” goes hurricane Central Atlantic

14th: T.D. #21 forms over the E. Atlantic & becomes “Vicky”... Cat. 1 “Paulette” hits Bermuda... “Sally” goes hurricane over the Northern Gulf... t.d. #20 forms over the Central Atlantic & becomes “Teddy”... last “Rene” advisory

16th: Cat. 2 “Sally” landfall at Gulf Shores, Alabama - aftermath pics * here *... last “Paulette” advisory

17th: Last “Sally” & “Vicky” advisories

18th: t.d. #22 forms over the Gulf & becomes “Beta”... tropical storm “Wilfred” E. Atlantic... t.s. “Alpha” briefly forms over NE Atlantic & makes landfall on the coast of Portugal

21st: “Paulette” becomes a tropical storm *again* over E. Atlantic... t.s. “Beta” landfall at Victoria, Texas... last “Wilfred” advisory

22nd: Last advisories on “Beta”, “Paulette” & “Teddy”


2nd: t.d. #25 W. Caribbean & becomes t.s. “Gamma” with a landfall on the Yucatan Peninsula on the 3rd... last advisory on the 5th

4th: t.d. #26 Central Caribbean... becomes t.s. “Delta” on the 5th & becomes a hurricane

7th: Cat. 2 “Delta” landfall near Cancun

9th: Cat. 2 “Delta” landfall east of Cameron, Louisiana... last advisory on the 10th

19th: T.D. #27 forms & becomes t.s. “Epsilon” over the Central Atlantic

24th: T.D. #28 forms over the NW Caribbean & becomes t.s. “Zeta” on the 25th... last “Epsilon” advisory on the 25th

28th: Cat. 2 “Zeta” landfall southeast of New Orleans - pics * here *... last advisory on the 29th

31st: T.D. #29 forms over the Central Caribbean & becomes t.s. “Eta”


3rd: Cat. 4 “Eta” landfall on the northeast coast of Nicaragua - pics * here *

8th: T.S. “Eta” landfall on the central Cuba coast early in the morning.... in the Fl. Keys in the evening

12th: T.S. “Eta” landfall at Cedar Key, Fl. near 4am EST... moves over Duval Co. as a very weak tropical storm near 11am EST... last advisory on the 13th. Tampa pic’s * here *.

While not producing any damage in Jacksonville/NE Fl./SE Ga., tropical storm Eta was one of just a handful of named storms that have moved directly over Duval Co. within the last 20 years:

13th: T.D. #31 forms over the Caribbean & strengthens into t.s. “Iota”

16th: “Iota” goes Cat. 5 over the W. Caribbean & hits Nicaragua as Cat. 4 in the evening - pics * here *

18th: Last “Iota” advisory over Central America



Atlantic Basin wave forecast for 24, 48 & 72 hours respectively:

Saharan dust, dry air:

2020 names..... “Wilfred” was the last name on the Atlantic list (names are picked at random by the World Meteorological Organization... repeat every 6 years... historic storms are retired (Florence & Michael in ’18 & Dorian is certain to be retired from the ’19 list). Interesting side note: the last six of the names on the ’20 list had never been used. So it’s on to the Greek alphabet. "Kappa” is next... the first time the Greek alphabet has been used since 2005 (total of 28 named storms using 6 Greek letter names in ’05 [there was one unnamed storm). Theta broke the record for the most Atlantic storms in a single season on record at 29.

East Atlantic:

Mid & upper level wind shear (enemy of tropical cyclones) analysis (CIMMS). The red lines indicate strong shear:

Water vapor imagery (dark blue indicates dry air):

Deep oceanic heat content:

Sea surface temp. anomalies:

SE U.S. surface map:

Surface analysis centered on the tropical Atlantic:

Surface analysis of the Gulf:


Global tropical activity: