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Historic Hurricane Season With 29 Named Storms Reveals 'Large Increasing Trends' And 'Climate Change Signal,' Scientist Says

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) - This year, we've seen 29 storms, making for a historic hurricane season.

An image of Hurricane Zeta as it churned through the Gulf of Mexico in October taken from the International Space Station shows the magnitude of the storms we experienced this year.

As CBS2's Vanessa Murdock reports, the season isn't over just yet.

More: Pets Rescued From Louisiana Following Hurricane Delta Arrive At Long Island Shelter

Flooded Parking Garage
(credit: CBS2)

A trailer shredded in Louisiana. Storm surge barreled through a parking garage in Mississippi. High winds raked across the Keys, and in Manhattan teaming rain blacked out a camera. All this and so much more, courtesy of historic hurricane season 2020. With the naming of Theta Monday night, 2020 now boasts 29 named storms, one-upping 2005 for most on record.

"Really keep us on our toes," said Suzana Camargo, a research professor with Columbia's Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory. "We had all the factors there for a very active season."

Camargo highlights La Nina in the Pacific and warm Atlantic waters.

While 2020 can now claim most named storms, researchers look at much more when assessing the season as a whole. One index in particular counts for a lot: Accumulated Cyclone Energy - or ACE - a measure of the intensity and duration of all storms.

More: Hurricane Delta Leaves Hundreds Of Thousands Without Power

"This year is above normal, but it's not a record year," Camargo said.

"This year we haven't had any category 5 hurricanes. In 2005 we had four category 5 hurricanes," said Phil Klotzbach, a research scientist at Colorado State University.

2020 Historic Hurricane Season
(credit: CBS2)

Klotzbach authors Colorado State University's Hurricane Forecast.  Of note for him this season: The rapid intensification of several storms. That's what happened with Laura, the strongest hurricane to make landfall this year.

"If you look at the data, you see these large increasing trends in those. Some of that is likely just due to the fact that we're observing storms better than we used to," he said. "Likely also there is a climate change signal."

More years of data and research are needed on that one.  What is certain is the season's not over yet. Theta and Eta are still out there, with the possibility of more storms on the horizon.

It has also been an extremely active year for continental U.S. landfalls, with Eta marking 12. The most active before this year was nine landfalls in 1916.


(© Copyright 2020 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)


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