More named storms than ever. Is it climate change?

An aerial view of floodwaters from Hurricane Delta
An aerial view of floodwaters from Hurricane Delta surrounding structures destroyed by Hurricane Laura on Oct. 10, 2020 in Creole, Louisiana.
Mario Tama | Getty Images

The storms started forming even before the hurricane season officially kicked off. Tropical Storm Albert churned toward North Carolina in mid-May, two weeks before the official start to the Atlantic season on June 1.

It was an ominous beginning that only continued. By August, meteorologists upgraded their forecast to say 2020 looked to be “extremely active,” and that they now expected up to 25 named storms – double a normal year. But 2020 blew past even that goalpost. There have now been 30 named storms – 13 of them hurricanes.

Is climate change to blame? Since 1900, Atlantic ocean waters have warmed by 2 degrees Fahrenheit. Scientists know warmer water leads to stronger storms. Does it also increase the number?


  • Richard Alley is an American geologist and Evan Pugh Professor of Geosciences at Pennsylvania State University.

To listen to the full conversation you can use the audio player above.

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