This 2020 Atlantic hurricane season set the all-time record (back to 1851) for named storms (30), and had the 2nd most number of hurricanes (13) and major hurricanes (6, 7-way tie for 2nd) (both of these records held by 2005).
One year does not make a trend - so the larger question is whether hurricanes/named storms are a Poisson process, and can we can use the Poisson distribution to determine whether recent years are exhibiting an increased trend. This has been shown mathematically, and the criteria certainly seems to fit tropical systems, just like it does with shark attacks:
The Poisson distribution arises in connection with Poisson processes. It applies to various phenomena of discrete properties (that is, those that may happen 0, 1, 2, 3, ... times during a given period of time or in a given area) whenever the probability of the phenomenon happening is constant in time or space.
The key part here is "probability of the phenomenon happening is constant in time" - is the probability of a hurricane/named storm increasing over time?
In each chart, I'll present two comparisons - one over the entire HURDAT history of tropical cyclones in the Atlantic (1851 to now), and another just in the satellite era, which is 1967 to now. While NOAA undergoes extensive reanalysis projects to fill in past years prior to satellites, it is still very possible that more storms are named today due to increases in data and technology, including satellites:
- Named storms
- Major Hurricanes (Category 3 or Higher)
- Accumulated Cyclone Energy - ACE (more on this later)