On behalf of America’s southeastern quadrant: Oh, GREAT! Early hurricane predictions are in. And big.

It’s going to be a rough season again, Science News lets us know. Tropical weather forecasters are predicting 18 named storms and at least four major hurricanes for the 2020 season:

Other researchers have also predicted above-normal activity for the year, including forecasters at Colorado State University in Fort Collins and the University of Arizona in Tucson, as well as a consortium of risk experts known as Tropical Storm Risk at University College London.

All of these groups cited very high sea-surface temperatures, or SST, in the tropical Atlantic Ocean as a key reason for the expected activity. Warm moist air evaporating from the ocean acts as fuel for hurricanes, pumping water into the atmosphere that then gets carried higher by converging winds until it rains out, releasing more heat and driving the cycle forward.

“Atlantic SST is forecasted to be one of the warmest since 1993,” researchers with the University of Arizona noted April 13. It was the first time the team released its forecast in April, rather than June.

Several analyses, including the Weather Channel’s, also suggest that a La Niña weather pattern may develop by late summer.