Chief Meteorologist recaps 2020 hurricane season


PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WMBB)–Some would say 2020 was a year like no other. From the pandemic to the wildfires to the presidential election, it was a busy year. To top it all off, the Gulf Coast experienced a significant hyperactive storm season with 30 tropical systems.

“We not only doubled the criteria for active, but we also set the record. Breaking the old record of 28 systems back in 2005,” said News 13 Chief Meteorologist Ross Whitley.

A season so active that we dipped into the Greek alphabet, breaking another record.

“There’s only 1 other year that the Greek alphabet has ever been used and it was that 2005 season that we surpassed this year,” Whitley said.

While the panhandle did welcome a lot of rain, luckily impacts were not too severe.

“We didn’t really have a direct impacting system to our area. Sally was really close and provided a lot of rain for us but the wind was really tropical storm-related across our area so not really impactful on the winds,” Whitley said.

Hurricane sally dumped 30 inches of rain on Panama City Beach, leaving many homes flooded and beaches eroded.

“We saw flooding that we haven’t seen since the early ’90s across the area so hopefully it’ll be another 30 years before another system like that happens,” Whitley said.

The back to back storms also highlighted what we can improve on.

“I think what that really did in our area is point out the issues we have with our drainage systems,” Whitley said.

As for 2021, Chief Ross says an active season is forecasted but he’s optimistic it won’t be as busy as 2020. But as always, he says anything is possible.

“An active season isn’t everything, it really just takes one system to have a major impact across the U.S.,” Whitley said.

To stay up to date on all things storm-related, you can download our Storm Track 13 mobile app.

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