Alabama State Climatologist says 2020 brings unusual tropical atmosphere


HUNTSVILLE, Ala. — Preparations for hurricanes have been going on all summer and it doesn’t look like the hurricane season will be ending anytime soon.

2020 has seen an active hurricane season so far and John Christy, the Alabama State Climatologist, says that’s because of a fairly unusual situation in the atmosphere of the tropics.

“Where there is not as much wind as is normal, and when you don’t have wind blowing around and so on, the hurricanes are able to cook,” said Christy.

Sally is the 18th named storm this year, which is eight more than average for a single year. And hurricane season still has months to go.

“For the satellite era, it is odd to run out of names… so we are having a lot,” said Christy. “That just tells you that this year is just right for hurricane formation.”

Once we get past the last letter on the 2020 list, “W,” meteorologists will have to dip into the greek alphabet. That’s only been done once before: in 2005.

Adding to the ups and downs of 2020, Christy says we are in the midst of a La Niña year.

“When you have a La Niña, which is what is now occurring for the coming year, we’re going to likely have warmer and dryer conditions down, especially near the gulf coast and Florida,” said Christy.

He adds that cold air outbreaks can still happen, and North Alabama is right on the edge of La Niña’s impact… But still, it begs the question — Will we see snow?

“We are about due for a snowfall,” said Christy. “La Niña years sometimes can give us that. If some people remember January of ’88, we had 8 or 9 inches of snow. So, La Niña years have seen snowfall come so there is that chance.”

So with everything that 2020 has brought, Christy says we could still get a white Christmas.

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