The agency never got to Eta, however, because the 28th storm of that year was not identified until the season was over. That last storm in 2005 was a subtropical storm that formed briefly in October near the Azores, a remote archipelago in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean.
With about a month left in the 2020 hurricane season, the 2005 record for the most named storms is likely to be broken, Mr. Klotzbach said.
“The odds certainly favor another storm or two forming in November,” he said. “The large-scale environment, especially in the Caribbean, is forecast to remain more conducive than normal for this late in the hurricane season.”
Eta followed Hurricane Zeta, which landed on Oct. 28 in Louisiana as a Category 2 storm, killing at least six people and causing widespread power outages in Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia and the Carolinas.
The hurricanes of 2020 have not matched the intensity of the storms of 2005. That year, eight storms became major hurricanes, which are defined as hurricanes that reach Category 3 or higher.
But the effects of the 2020 season across the U.S. South have been widespread.
Hurricane Laura battered Lake Charles, La., in late August; Hurricane Sally lashed the Florida Panhandle with a deluge of rain in September; and in October, Hurricane Delta made landfall in Louisiana less than 20 miles east of where Laura struck, slamming the area as it was still trying to recover.
Government scientists had predicted an unusually busy hurricane season, which began on June 1. They pointed to factors like higher-than-average sea surface temperatures in the tropical Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean, a strong African monsoon season and a reduced vertical wind shear, which means less wind variability at different altitudes that can disrupt the formation of storms.