The 28th named storm of the 2020 Atlantic hurricane season formed Sunday and made its way to Central America on Monday as Hurricane Eta, Foreign Media’s The Verge reported. That equals the record for the most storms named for a single hurricane season set in the Atlantic hurricane season in 2005. It’s also the 12th hurricane to form this season, according to Phil Klotzbach, a research scientist in the Department of Atmospheric Sciences at Colorado State University.
The World Meteorological Organization ran out of its alphabet name in mid-September, just over two months before the 2020 hurricane season. This forced the agency to turn to the Greek alphabet as the name of the storm, only for the second time in its history. But this is the first time Eta has been used since a storm in 2005 was not named. The U.S. National Hurricane Center didn’t discover it until a routine postseason review.
Klotzbach said high-resolution satellite imagery makes it easier for storm trackers to identify storms that might not have been detected 30 or 40 years ago. But 2020 is still unusually active, with more than twice as many named storms as the average season. Individual storms have also been very active this season, with some quickly strengthening in a short period of time. Eta is the fifth hurricane in a row to strengthen rapidly this season. With climate change, storms like Eta are becoming more common.
The official hurricane season doesn’t end until November 30, so there’s still time to break the record for the most storms of 2005. “Probability certainly helps to create another storm or two in November,” Klotzbach told The New York Times on Tuesday. “Widespread conditions, particularly in the Caribbean, are expected to remain more favorable than normal later in the hurricane season.”
Last month, Hurricane Delta became the 10th named storm to make landfall in the United States in a single season, a record. 2020 also equals the record for weather and climate disasters that cost at least $1 billion in 2011 and 2017.
Eta is expected to make landfall on Nicaragua’s northeast coast as a major hurricane on Tuesday local time — possibly strengthening to a Category 4. It could bring “life-threatening storm surges, catastrophic winds, flash floods and landslides,” according to the National Hurricane Center’s warning at 10 a.m. EST Tuesday. Klotzbach said if it makes landfall in Nicaragua as a Category 4 hurricane, it will be the strongest since Category 5 Hurricane Felix in 2007.