As if a pandemic weren’t bad enough, hurricane season could be a bad one

April 3, 2020, 3:00 PM UTC

As the U.S. struggles to cope with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, scientists at Colorado State University are sending up a flare that this summer and fall could see hurricanes bring a different sort of crisis.

Researchers at the school are predicting an above-average level of activity this hurricane season, with 16 named storms. That’s four more than in a typical season.

Of those 16, say researchers, eight could become hurricanes—and four of those could reach major hurricane strength (hitting a category 3, 4, or 5 on the Saffir-Simpson scale). And there’s a 95% chance at least one will make landfall in the U.S. this year.

Hurricane season runs from June 1 to Nov. 30.

The 2020 hurricane season is exhibiting characteristics similar to those of 1960, 1966, 1980, 1996, and 2008, said officials. “1966, 1980, 1996, and 2008 had above-average Atlantic hurricane activity, while 1960 was a near-average hurricane season,” said Phil Klotzbach, research scientist in the Department of Atmospheric Science at Colorado State and lead author of the report.

If the prediction proves accurate, it will be the fifth consecutive year that hurricane season involves above-average activity. The 2019 season saw 18 named storms and 20 tropical cyclones, causing over $11 billion in damages. The year also saw two category 5 storms—Dorian and Lorenzo.

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