The hurricane season got off to a historic start with two named storms (Arthur and Bertha) even before the season officially began on June 1st. Cristobal then made history when it became the earliest third-named storm on record when it became a tropical storm on June 2nd. This broke the previous record of June 5th, set in 2016 by Tropical Storm Colin.
While an early start to the hurricane season does not guarantee an active season, unfortunately it looks like the busy start this year is indeed a sign of what is to come during the upcoming summer and fall.
When we look back in history at years that had a similar global pattern to what we have this year, we find that most of those years had a very active or hyperactive hurricane season.
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The graphic below shows the official forecast from the National Hurricane Center versus what we see from a typical year.
Based on our analysis, we think that the high end of the forecast range from the National Hurricane Center is more likely.
Of course, the final numbers are not nearly as important as the tracks of the storms and whether they have a direct impact on land. Relatively quiet seasons have had storms that produced catastrophic damage, such as 1992 when Hurricane Andrew devastated southern Florida as a Category 5 storm during a season that had only six named storms. On the other hand, there have been very active seasons with minimal impacts to Canada and even to the United States.
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At this point, research meteorologists at Colorado State University are highlighting that the risk of a major hurricane making landfall along the U.S. East Coast this year is nearly 50 per cent higher than the normal risk, and the anticipated pattern also puts Atlantic Canada at risk to be impacted by tropical systems.
After the exceptionally busy start to the hurricane season, we are now in a period of quieter weather across the tropics. However, it looks like the tropics will spring back to life during July. Most years we see very little tropical activity until early- to mid-August, but the pattern during the upcoming month of July looks unusually favourable for tropical development with a threat for tropical storms and possibly a hurricane. This is well before the peak of the hurricane season, which occurs during early September.
Thumbnail courtesy: On June 8, from aboard the International Space Station, Astronaut Chris Cassidy captured this image of Tropical Storm Cristobal. Credit: NASA/Chris Cassidy Twitter.