A new report from reinsurance broking and advisory firm Beach & Associates projects an “above average” hurricane season for 2020. Beach said there were “several key persistent variables” behind the forecast, including a high Atlantic sea surface temperature and a potential La Nina.
The 2020 hurricane season follows three consecutive active hurricane years, two of which saw heavy loss activity.
“In 2019, the US was spared any significant hurricane loss events,” Beach said. “However, the outcome would have been different if Hurricane Dorian had followed early forecast tracks and made a Category 5 landfall in Florida; it still caused devastation in the Bahamas, resulting in significant loss of life and property damage.”
Beach’s analytics team examined several key factors in order to predict likely conditions during hurricane season:
- Atlantic sea surface temperature
- Tropical Pacific sea surface temperature
- The quasi-biennial oscillation (an oscillation of equatorial winds)
- Saharan dust
The Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation (AMO) index, a measure of how warm the Atlantic is relative to its average, hit its highest level since 1948 for February and March, and second-highest level for April, according to Beach. High AMO is usually a strong indicator of an active hurricane season.
There are grounds for a less pessimistic outlook, however. The strongest is the distribution of warm water in the Atlantic, which Beach said was unlike that of the active seasons with similarly high AMO in 2010, 2005 and 1998.
“Beach’s analytical capabilities and intellectual firepower allow us to remain committed to providing market-leading modeling, research and insight regarding the upcoming hurricane seasons,” said Beach CEO Jason Howard. “This year we see a strong possibility, given the factors listed above, of an above-average period of hurricane activity. Also, the disruption and cost COVID-19 has caused may mean that a hurricane landfall or near-miss this year would be considerably amplified.”