RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — The 2020 Atlantic hurricane season started in May with Tropical Storm Arthur forming on May 16. This marked the sixth straight year of a named storm forming prior to June 1, the official start of hurricane season.
Since 2000, 11 storms have formed prior to June 1.
In 1970, the average date of the first named storm was July 11. That has shifted to June 3 in 2019. The earlier start is likely due to warming sea surface temperatures, a direct result of climate change, providing fuel for storms.
Scientists are unsure if this uptick in activity is just circumstantial or a new trend.
This early season activity has led the World Meteorological Organization to ask the National Hurricane Center to begin analyzing if the official start should be moved into May, similar to the Eastern Pacific Season that starts on May 15.
This year will feature the first step in making an earlier start to the year official. The National Hurricane Center will start issuing their Tropical Weather Outlooks, where they note any disturbed weather they are monitoring, on May 15, a full two weeks sooner than normal.
Last year, the National Hurricane Center issued 36 of these outlooks prior to June 1 due to Arthur and Tropical Storm Bertha.
Shifting the hurricane season forward by two weeks would allow for more updates on potential developing storms much earlier so possible impact zones can take needed precautions. FEMA has noted that, despite their messaging of being prepared for all of hurricane season, most people wait until they are about to be impacted to make preparations for their homes.