Today’s Image of the Day from NASA Earth Observatory displays the extent of the 2020 Atlantic hurricane season, with six different storms brewing simultaneously.
With the most named storms observed in a single year, the most storms to make landfall in the continental United States, and the most storms to form in September, the 2020 hurricane season was “supercharged.”
“What really blew me away were the explosive intensification events,” said Jim Kossin, an atmospheric scientist with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). “For instance, Hurricane Eta’s wind speeds increased around 80 miles per hour in one day. There’s rapid intensification, and then there’s really rapid intensification, which is what we saw often this year.”
In 2020, nine storms rapidly intensified, while the destructive force of others was tied to a slower forward motion. Hurricane Sally, for example, moved at just two miles per hour for a period of time.
Hurricane Laura was the strongest storm to make landfall in the U.S. this year, with sustained winds of 150 miles per hour and storm surges ranging from 9 to 15 feet.
The same region of Nicaragua was hit by two category 4 hurricanes, Eta and Iota, within a matter of just two weeks. This is the first incidence in recorded history that two Atlantic hurricanes hit the same area with such strength in this short time frame.
“Eta stood out as one of the most catastrophic storms of the season, as it stalled and rapidly intensified at the same time,” said Tim Hall, a hurricane researcher at NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies. “It also occurred in November, well after the season typically peaks.”
Image Credit: NASA Earth Observatory