November 9, 2020

Subtropical Storm Theta Makes 2020 Atlantic Hurricane Season The Most Active On Record


Of course it was going to come to this: Subtropical Storm Theta formed in the eastern Atlantic Ocean on Monday night, becoming the record 29th named storm of the 2020 Atlantic hurricane season. This is now the most active Atlantic hurricane season on record, beating the hyperactive 2005 hurricane season by one storm. Theta will slowly drift through the eastern Atlantic through the end of the week.


Theta formed far to the southwest of the Azores Islands from a cluster of thunderstorms along a frontal boundary. The cluster of storms became organized enough for the National Hurricane Center to declare the system a subtropical storm and begin issuing advisories.

A subtropical storm is a low-pressure system that exhibits both tropical and extratropical characteristics—it's a hybrid storm that looks and acts like a tropical cyclone, but it's not completely warm throughout and it derives some of its energy from upper-level winds.

The National Hurricane Center's current forecast shows Theta transitioning into a tropical storm as the thunderstorms near the core of the storm take over as the system's energy source. Theta will pose no threat to the United States, but it could bring hazardous conditions to Madeira this weekend or early next week.


Theta is the 29th named storm of this historic hurricane season. The previous record was 28 storms set back in 2005. The 2020 hurricane season beat 2005's record by starting early—Tropical Storm Arthur formed on May 16—and by racking up the storm count through several stretches of rapid-fire storm development.

Theta is the eighth letter of the Greek alphabet. The next letters in the Greek alphabet are Iota, Kappa, and Lambda. There's a decent chance we see at least one more storm this year. Hurricane season runs through November 30, and the final storm of the 2005 hurricane season developed on December 30.

[Satellite Image: NOAA]


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I graduated from the University of South Alabama in 2014 with a degree in political science and a minor in meteorology. I ran Gawker's The Vane for two years and I've contributed to Mental Floss, Forbes, Popular Science, and the Washington Post's Capital Weather Gang. I also teamed up with Outdoor Life to write a book called The Extreme Weather Survival Manual, which came out in October 2015.

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