Hurricane season is rapidly approaching. It is time to begin preparing your family and your business for what very well may be an active hurricane season in the Gulf Coast. In fact, there is a thought that there exists an above-average probability of a major hurricane landfall in the United States and the Caribbean.
Every year at this time, experts at Colorado State University (CSU) make predictions forecasting what is expected in the upcoming hurricane season. The Tropical Meteorology Project is headed by Colorado State University’s Dr. William Gray. Professor Gray has worked in the observational and theoretical aspects of tropical meteorological research for more than 40 years.
Dr. Gray’s hurricane forecast has gained international attention, and won him the Neil Frank Award of the National Hurricane Conference in 1995. His Atlantic basin hurricane forecasts are published here. (Archived forecasts are available.)
Dr. Phil Klotzbach has worked with Dr. Gray on the seasonal hurricane forecasts since 2000 and is currently working as a research scientist in the Department of Atmospheric Science. He designed the United States Landfalling Hurricane Probability Webpage which has received over 500,000 hits since its inception on June 1, 2004. His research interests include seasonal hurricane prediction and causes of climate change.
Dr. Gray and Dr. Klotzbach anticipate an above-average probability of United States and Caribbean major hurricane landfall. They call for 16 named storms forming in the Atlantic basin between June 1 and Nov. 30. Nine of those are expected to turn into hurricanes with five developing into major hurricanes (Saffir/Simpson category 3-4-5) with sustained winds of 111 mph or greater.
“We expect that anomalously warm tropical Atlantic sea surface temperatures combined with neutral tropical Pacific sea surface temperatures will contribute to an active season,” said Klotzbach of the CSU Tropical Meteorology Project. “We have reduced our forecast slightly from early December due to a combination of recent ocean warming in the eastern and central tropical Pacific and recent cooling in the tropical Atlantic.”
The hurricane forecast team made this early April forecast based on a new forecast scheme that relies on 29 years of historical data. The hurricane team’s forecasts are based on the premise global oceanic and atmospheric conditions – such as El Nino, sea surface temperatures, sea level pressures – that preceded active or inactive hurricane seasons in the past provide meaningful information about similar conditions that will likely occur in the current year. The team’s annual predictions are intended to provide a best estimate of activity to be experienced during the upcoming season, not
an exact measure.
“We remain – since 1995 – in a favorable multi-decadal period for enhanced Atlantic Basin hurricane activity, which is expected to continue for the next 10-15 years or so,” Gray said. “Except for the very destructive hurricane seasons of 2004-2005, United States coastal residents have experienced no other major landfalling hurricanes since 1999. This recent 9 of 11-year period without any major landfall events should not be expected to continue.”