Isaias and the bruising hurricane season of 2020

Isaias and the bruising hurricane season of 2020
The 2020 hurricane season lived up to the preseason hype, and then some. (Source: WECT)

WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - The 2020 hurricane season lived up to the preseason hype, and then some.

It established a new record for named storms in the Atlantic Basin. Of the 31 tropical depressions that formed, 30 graduated into named tropical storms. And of those, 13 turned into hurricanes including 6 major hurricanes - numbers that rival those of the infamous 2005 Atlantic Hurricane Season.

Storms formed quickly and often in 2020 and, on many occasions, three or more storms were operating at the same time! And by all measures, the numbers obliterated those of an average season.

Tropical Storms Arthur and Bertha kicked off the season early, in May. Bertha, which hit South Carolina, was the first of 12 U.S. landfallers - a record high. A lot of the names on the primary 2020 Atlantic Basin storm names list corresponded to weak, short-lived storms. But, as the season progressed, storm quality unfortunately began to catch up with quantity. Laura - a Cat. 4 hurricane that hit Louisiana in August and 2020′s strongest U.S. landfaller - was one of them.

The 2020 hurricane season lived up to the preseason hype, and then some.
The 2020 hurricane season lived up to the preseason hype, and then some. (Source: WECT)

2020 was also the only season apart from 2005 in which the primary storm names list wasn’t enough and letters of the Greek alphabet had to be added to label storms. And sadly, many of these were strong and impactful storms, too. Category 2 Hurricane Zeta has the distinction of hitting the largest U.S. metro area of the 2020 season when it ripped across New Orleans in October.

The 2020 hurricane season lived up to the preseason hype, and then some.
The 2020 hurricane season lived up to the preseason hype, and then some. (Source: WECT)

A particularly haunting wrinkle to the 2020 Atlantic Hurricane Season was the propensity for multiple storms to ravage the same areas over and over. For example, 10 named storms hit the U.S. Gulf coast, including five to Louisiana alone. Hurricane Delta, which struck near Lake Charles in October, landfalled within 20 miles of where Laura did just two months before. And in November, deadly hurricanes Eta and Iota dealt devastating blows to the coast of Nicaragua, Central America, within 20 miles and two weeks of each other.

Hurricane Isaias was the North Carolina’s lone landfaller of 2020. Isaias’ center roared ashore at Ocean Isle Beach late in the evening of Aug. 3 so most of the Cape Fear Region experienced at least a portion of its raucous Cat. 1 eye wall. Wind damage was scattered but locally enhanced in tornadoes, including a confirmed EF-2 in Southport. Damaging storm surge topped five feet in Oak Island and the Cape Fear River swelled to a record tide of nine feet at Wilmington. Isaias was far too speedy to generate sufficient rainfall for river flooding in the Carolinas, but that same quickness and energy rolled into a violent EF-3 twister in Windsor, N.C. (Long-track EF-3+ twisters are rare in tropical systems.)

In all, the 2020 Atlantic Hurricane Season took more than 400 lives and inflicted more than $40 billion in damage.

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