Record-breaking 2020 Hurricane Season

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Record-breaking 2020 Hurricane Season

The Atlantic hurricane season runs from June 1 to November 30, when – among other ingredients – the waters of the Atlantic Ocean are warm enough to support the development of tropical cyclones.

Record-breaking season

By September 18th, after blasting through the 21 letters used in the alphabet and for only the second time ever, forecasters resorted to using the letter of the Greek alphabet for storm names. The name lists only use 21 of the 26 letters available in our traditional alphabet due to the difficulty in finding six easily recognisable English, Spanish, French and Dutch names starting with Q, U, X, Y and Z.

Subtropical Storm Alpha came to life off the coast of Portugal just after the season’s last traditionally-named 21st storm, Tropical Storm Wilfred, formed earlier in the day. Then Beta formed in the Gulf a few hours later. The only other time on record that the Atlantic had three named storm formations on the same calendar day was August 15, 1893.

Iota, the record-setting 30th named storm of 2020, formed in the Caribbean on November 13, 2020 and quickly grew to the first ever Greek-alphabet Category 5. The storm made landfall as a Category 4 late in the evening on the 16th near the town of Haulover, Nicaragua with sustained winds near 250km/h, only 20 km south of Category 4 Eta’s landfall just 14 days prior. Iota is now the latest Atlantic calendar year Category 5 hurricane on record. Old record was set November 8 by the “Cuba Hurricane of 1932”.

November 30 update – the 2020 Atlantic hurricane season ranked first (“most active” since 1966) with 30 named storms and 13 hurricanes.

Hurricane Teddy and Atlantic Canada

Canada was not spared the wrath of the season. Hurricane Teddy, at one point a Category 4 storm transitioned to a post-tropical cyclone and, on September 23, made landfall near Ecum Secum, Nova Scotia packing winds of 119 km/h (measured at Eskasoni), and proceeded to drop 131 millimetres of rain in Ingonish.

The 2020 “Zombie” storm

“Zombie” tropical storm Paulette, which first made landfall in Bermuda on September 14, dissipated into the Atlantic, but remnants of the storm regained tropical storm strength (“came back from the dead”) late on the 21st southeast of the Azores, an archipelago off the coast of Portugal. The last hurricane to fizzle out and re-spawn as a tropical storm was Ivan in 2004.

Visit our Canadian Hurricane Centre site to learn more about tropical storms affecting Canada.

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