Hurricane Season 2020 still outpacing 2005 Hurricane Season

Nana, Omar down; next up, Paulette, Rene

It looked like 2005 might take the lead over 2020 to retain its title for the most named storms. After all, after Laura and Marco became the earliest named storms for their letter, beating out Tropical Storm Lee and Hurricane Maria on Team 2005, the current season would have had to have two more storms before Sept. 7.

Nate formed on Sept. 5, 2005, and Ophelia was born on Sept. 7, 2005.

Enter Nana and Omar, both on Sept. 1.

Take that 2005.

Nana became a Category 1 hurricane and hit Belize on Thursday (Sept. 3) with 75 mph winds. She broke apart after landfall.

Omar remained a tropical storm well to the east of the U.S. Mid-Atlantic Coast and fell apart about 6 p.m. today (Sept. 5).

The height of the hurricane season is this coming week. Sept. 10 is the unofficial "Hurricane Day," with an active named storm in play somewhere in the Atlantic or Gulf for 90 of the past 100 Sept. 10ths.

To keep that tradition alive -- since Nana and Omar made such early appearances this month -- there needs to be at least a Tropical Storm Paulette in the next few days.

The best chance for that to happen is a tropical wave spotted near the Cabo Verde Islands late this week, several hundred miles west of Africa. Dozens of tropical waves start in Africa during hurricane season, but only a few develop into tropical depressions, then as named tropical storms and then into hurricanes.

Hurricane watchers say the system has a good chance of becoming a tropical storm by Sunday or Monday when it reaches the central Atlantic. Assuming that happens, and there is nothing to bring the storm to an early demise, the Sept. 10 tradition will remain intact and we can add Paulette to our list of 2020 storms. In fact, forecasters say the storm could become a hurricane, but no projections on whether it will threaten the Gulf or Atlantic Coast of the U.S.

The chance for a Hurricane Rene in the near future is a little more remote -- but still possible. A strong tropical wave is expected to start its eastward journey as early as Sunday or Monday. It is given a moderate chance of reaching name status, but weather watchers point out that conditions can change quickly and a system can develop rapidly.

Even if there is no Paulette for Sept. 10, 2020 can add another early-formation record to its list if there is a Paulette by Sept. 17, when Phillippe was formed in 2005. Renee has until Sept. 18 to take the earliest 'R' storm title from Rita, another 2005 hurricane.

So far this hurricane season, the following storms have become the earliest named storms of their letter: Crisobal, Edouard, Fay, Gonzalo, Hanna, Isaias, Josephine, Kyle, Laura, Marco, Nana and Omar.

Hurricane season runs through November, and there are only six names left out of the 21 on the official hurricane name list for 2020. Hurricane season can last longer, but the ocean waters are usually too cold to feed a major storm when winter falls.

There are no names for Q, U, X, Y and Z because there are so few names beginning with those letters. There's Quentin, Queenie, Uldovan, Ursula, Xavier, Xaviera, Yeshua, Zelda and a bunch of Bible names for Z, but there are six rotating lists of storm names that change only after a name is "retired" due to its severity.

That means for only the second time since storms have been given names -- guess the other year -- late-season hurricanes will be referred to by a Greek letter.

So if there are storms Paulette, Rene, Sally, Teddy, Vicky and Wilfred, what will our late-season storms be called?
To beat 2005 -- which extended its hurricane season to Jan. 7, 2006, with Tropical Storm Zeta tying the record for latest storm -- the 2020 hurricane season would have to use up the Greek alphabet to at least Eta, giving it 28 named storms. That would be Alpha, Beta, Gamma, Delta, Epsilon, Zeta, Eta. For good measure, Theta, Iota and Kappa.

The super-storm year of 2005 had 27 named storms, 21 regular names and six Greek letters.

In June the weather wizards were saying 2020 would be an active storm year with 19 named storms. By July they had revised their prediction to 24.

With this hurricane season currently two weeks ahead of 2005's pace, there are some who believe a 30-storm season may not be as impossible as coastal communities and islands would like it to be.

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