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Record-breaking storm season finally comes to end

By CJ HADDAD / cjhaddad@breezenewspapers.com - | Dec 4, 2020

It was an Atlantic hurricane season for the record books, literally, as more named storms were formed in 2020 than any other year prior.

While Southwest Florida was lucky enough to not find itself in direct line with a major hurricane, many things were learned this year when it comes to emergency response amidst a pandemic.

Communication was paramount for response teams throughout the county, who had to become innovative due to limited personnel allowed in an area at one time. Perhaps the biggest concern that never came to fruition was what to do if shelters needed to be opened throughout the region.

“It takes a whole community effort to both prepare for and respond to storm threats,” Director of Lee County Public Safety — Emergency Management Lee Mayfield said. “We worked with the state and our local partners well in advance of the 2020 season and throughout it to identify areas of our hurricane response plans that might need adjustments based on COVID-19. These areas of focus included evacuation planning, shelter operations and EOC staffing.”

There were a record 30 named storms throughout the season that “officially” ended on Nov. 30, including 17 tropical storms and 13 hurricanes — six of which were“major” (category 3 or greater).

Hurricane Eta did cause Lee County Schools to close for one day in November and spelled an early release just days later as is looped back around the Gulf of Mexico.

For just the second time in the modern era, the Atlantic season was depleted of pre-determined names for the season. In mid-September, all 21 names from the English alphabet were used which resulted in the Greek alphabet being administered, the first time that’s happened since 2005.

For the first time since 2012, two named storms formed before the June 1 “official” start to the season, which was a forecast of things to come.

Every single named storm other than Tropical Storm Dolly earned the record for the earliest forming storm of that letter in 2020.

September proved to be the most active month, as 10 named storms formed over 30 days.