Texas state climatologist: ‘Next 6 weeks will tell the story for hurricane season’

Published: Jul. 31, 2020 at 5:49 PM CDT
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BRYAN, Texas (KBTX) - Hurricane Isaias is in the Atlantic with the National Hurricane Center and area meteorologists keeping a close eye on its development. It is the ninth named storm this hurricane season, which runs June 1-Nov. 30.

The NHC had predicted 13-19 named storms this season.

"We're ahead of schedule in terms of named storms," said John Nielsen-Gammon, Texas A&M University Regents professor of atmospheric sciences and the Texas state climatologist. "Typically we've only had about a quarter of the normal amount of storm activity before this time of year. So, under a normal season, we would have another 8 to 10 named storms, and if you add that to the 9 we've already had, it puts us already at the upper limit of what was forecasted back in June."

However, most of the storms never reached hurricane status. Neilsen-Gammon says the remainder of hurricane season will likely see stronger development.

"We can certainly expect a greater percentage of storms becoming hurricanes because most of the ones so far have just been tropical storm status, and typically actually the majority reach hurricane strength," said Neilsen-Gammon. "So we haven't had any major hurricanes yet. But we certainly expect those to come."

Now, KBTX Pinpoint Weather Team and Texas emergency preparedness officials watch the storm development in the Gulf as opposed to Atlantic storms like Hurricane Isaias.

"The ability to forecast which parts of the basin are going to get hit by hurricanes on a seasonal basis is not really very advanced at this point," said Nielsen-Gammon. "Typically for the Gulf of Mexico, we hit peak likelihood of storms in early September. By the time we get into late September, the jet stream has started taking over, and so most storms that make it into the Gulf of Mexico tend to move off to the east and hit Florida and Louisiana and that sort of thing. So for us in Texas, it's mainly the next six weeks or so that are going to tell the story for the hurricane season."

For the full conversation with Neilsen-Gammon, see the video player above.

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