A closer look at the 2020 Tropical Cyclone season in the Atlantic

Hurdat2 data courtesy of the NHC
There’s a bug in the labelling in the Gantt chart

The North Atlantic tropical cyclone track data for 2020 (hurdat2) has finally been released by the NHC. It was such a busy year that it must have taken till now to ratify or whatever it is they’ve been doing to the data for the last six months. For the more eagle eyed amongst you, you may notice that my app doesn’t list the entry for Ten as a tropical cyclone because maximum winds reached only 30 knots and it was only classified as a tropical depression. I wonder if 2021 will surpass last year? I’ve been closely monitoring tropical cyclones in the Atlantic for ten years or more now and it seemed that last year the NHC were on an even a higher state of heightened alert than normal, naming anything that remotely could develop a vortex. Six of the named storms never made it beyond 40 knots and two survived for no more than 36 hours.

The 30 tropical cyclones in the 2020 season may have have just pipped 2005 into second place with 29, but the total ACE of the cyclones in 2020 was only 72% of the total ACE of the cyclones in 2005. I wonder just how many extra tropical cyclones they would have found in the 1933 season if they had had the sophisticated surveillance techniques we have today?

Hurdat2 data courtesy of the NHC

2 thoughts on “A closer look at the 2020 Tropical Cyclone season in the Atlantic”

  1. It’s a really good point about the increasingly sophisticated surveillance techniques – and also the possibility that the criteria for naming a system (not just the winds but other factors that they look for in deciding whether something is tropical or not) may have changed over time. I wonder if a more objective comparison based on reanalysis data and objective criteria for TC detection could be made, or whether that would suffer from the same potential bias due to increasing observations (eg satellite data) through time.

    1. Probably.
      Even since the start of the weather satellite era things have become even more sophisticated.
      Higher resolution NWP models also spot embryonic tropical depressions that sometime only make it to storm status for just a few hours.
      Not enough allowance is made for these advances when someone produces some research that cites AGW is responsible for faster developing storms, slower storms, more intense storms etc etc.

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