Friday, April 1, 2011

It's hurricane forecast season

For the people who follow hurricanes, there are two times of year -- Hurricane Season, and Hurricane Forecasting Season. And we're coming into the prime part of Hurricane Forecasting Season.

Over the next six weeks, we'll get forecasts from Accu-Weather, the Colorado State University specialists, a team from N.C. State University, and the National Hurricane Center -- among others.

The first of those predictions is in. If I were aiming for exciting headlines, this blog entry would have said, "Carolinas In Hurricane Bulls-Eye This Year." But I didn't, because if we learned anything from the last few years, it's that hurricane forecasts are far from a science.

In 2007, the forecasts over-estimated the number of storms. Last year, the predictions of an above-average season were on target, but several forecasters said the U.S. coast would take a beating. That didn't happen. Not a single major hurricane made landfall on our coast, even though several big storms churned in the Atlantic and Caribbean.

So take this with some caution ... Accu-Weather is predicting above-average hurricane activity this year, with a higher-than-normal chance of tropical storms and hurricanes hitting the Florida and Carolinas coasts. Accu-Weather's reasoning is the position of high pressure systems in the Atlantic. Last year, strong high pressure served to steer hurricanes westward through the southern Caribbean, into the coasts of Mexico and Central America.

If I understand it correctly, the thinking this year is that high pressure will be farther east. That will allow tropical storms and hurricanes to bend northward near North America.  

Accu-Weather predicts the Gulf Coast, especially Texas, will be at risk early in the season, with south Florida and the Carolinas feeling the brunt of activity in mid- to late-season (roughly, from late August through October). You can read all of this at Incidentally, William Gray and Phillkip Klotzbach, the kings of long-range forecasting, issue their prediction from Colorado State on Wednesday. They put out a preliminary forecast last December, and it also called for above-average activity.


Anonymous said...

Bill Gray is smart enough to confine his forecasting to the next season-unlike the climate change crowd who feel they can forecast weather apocalypse in 50-100 years.