Eta makes landfall, two new storms possible in coming days

U.S. has seen a record-shattering 12 tropical cyclone landfalls in 2020

Eta makes landfall, two new storms possible in coming days
2020 Atlantic Hurricane Season through Zeta. (Source: WSFA 12 News)

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - With Tropical Storm Eta officially making landfall on Lower Matecumbe Key, Florida, at 11 p.m. ET Sunday, the U.S. is up to an unheard of 12 landfalling tropical systems in 2020.

The previous record for Continental U.S. landfalls in a single hurricane season was 9. So we haven’t just broken the record, we’ve obliterated it.

2020 U.S. landfalling named storms.
2020 U.S. landfalling named storms. (Source: WSFA 12 News)

Eta has also put 2020 in a tie with 2005 for the most named storms in a single Atlantic hurricane season at 28. Of those, 12 have become hurricanes, with five reaching major hurricane status.

Major hurricanes are those that reach at least category 3 strength on the Saffir-Simpson scale. If you’re curious, that means maximum sustained winds of at least 111 mph.

2020 Hurricane Season as of November 9th.
2020 Hurricane Season as of November 9th. (Source: WSFA 12 News)

The five storms to reach major hurricane status this year were Laura, Teddy, Epsilon, Zeta, and Eta. Considering we average 2.7 major hurricanes per year, we were certainly well above normal. What is particularly striking is the fact that three of 2020′s five major hurricanes have occurred after switching to the Greek alphabet.

Not only has that never happened, but we’ve never had three Greek-named hurricanes in general in a single season. The only other year to feature the usage of the Greek alphabet was 2005, which saw Beta reach category 3 and Epsilon reach category 1.

Greek names used for tropical systems in 2020 as of November 9th.
Greek names used for tropical systems in 2020 as of November 9th. (Source: WSFA 12 News)

With Eta still chugging along, the statistics for 2020 will continue changing. However, as of the start of Monday (November 9th) this year’s wild hurricane season is not only tied for 1st for named storms, but it’s also tied for 2nd for number of hurricanes and tied for 4th for number of major hurricanes.

2020 is alone in 3rd for the number of days with an active named storm somewhere in the Atlantic Basin.

There have been no category 5 hurricanes this year, nor have there been storms like Katrina, Rita and Wilma from 2005.

That isn’t to take away from the significant and highly impactful storms we have seen, though. Hanna, Isaias, Laura, Sally, Delta, Zeta, and Eta especially have been particularly memorable for their impacts to the Lower 48.

Due to a lack of category 5 storms, and because a handful of this season’s named storms have remained relatively weak and short-lived, our “Accumulated Cyclone Energy" only ranks 11th of all hurricane seasons since 1966. Accumulated Cyclone Energy (ACE) is a variable that accounts for a tropical system’s strength and duration.

It’s a great way to put into perspective truly how intense any given hurricane season is.

But we aren’t done adding to 2020′s ACE bucket quite yet. Not only does Eta have some more life left, but there are two areas being monitored by the National Hurricane Center as having at least a “medium” chance of developing into a tropical depression or storm.

Tropical outlook as of 11 a.m. CT Monday.
Tropical outlook as of 11 a.m. CT Monday. (Source: WSFA 12 News)

The first area has a 80% chance of developing out in the Atlantic Ocean. Barring a significant change, that will become a depression and probably Tropical Storm Theta.

The second area is located in the Caribbean (surprise, surprise), and is being given a 50% chance of developing. Should a storm come out of that, it would be given the name Iota.

Keep in mind hurricane season doesn’t end until 12 a.m. on December 1st. Also keep in mind we can and do get tropical systems well into December and even January some years!

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