Tropical Storm Bertha

Tropical Storm Bertha made landfall 20 miles east of Charleston, South Carolina Wednesday, May 27, 2020. This is the second tropical storm to form before the ofificial start of hurricane season June 1. 

Even though the official start to the Atlantic Ocean hurricane season is June 1, May has not been shy to tropical systems. Tropical Storm Bertha formed and made landfall off the South Carolina coast Wednesday, putting 2020 in unusual territory.

The storm, which was responsible for heavy rains in Florida during Memorial Day weekend, including a soggy Sunday afternoon for the charity 'The Match 2' golf tournament, turned into Bertha, just east of Charleston, South Carolina at 8 a.m. Wednesday. Bertha then made landfall 20 miles east of Charleston around 9:30 a.m., with maximum sustained winds of 50 mph. 

This is the fifth time in six years that a named tropical system has formed before the start of hurricane season. Tropical Storm Arthur, which formed May 16, made that possible.

However, two named storms before Junee 1 puts the 2020 season into more unusual territory. Going back to the 1700s, there have only been six times when this has happened according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration: 2016, 2012, 1951, 1908 and 1887. Never has there been three storms to form before this time. 

In all years except one, seasons with two tropical storm or greater systems before June 1 has above average hurricane activity. 2012 and 1887, are tied for the third most active season on record. However, it should be noted that there is no clear scientific link between an early start to hurricane season and an active season ahead. 

That being said, Colorado State University's hurricane forecast does indicate a strong potential for a more active than usual season. 

The forecasted active season also comes with an "above-average probability for major hurricanes making landfall along the continental United States coastline," read the report, which was released April 2. There is a 45% chance of an East Coast landfall, much higher than the 31% average.

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