For the last 35 years researchers with Colorado State University have released an early look at their predictions for the upcoming hurricane season. This year the report describes the potential for a slightly more active season than average. The CSU Meteorology Project Team is currently predicting 14 named storms, including 7 hurricanes.
The report notes that an active season does not correspond to a higher risk of landfalling storms. The report states, in part:
“coastal residents are reminded that it only takes one hurricane making landfall to make it an active season for them. They should prepare the same for every season, regardless of how much activity is predicted.”
How the forecast is created: The team at CSU puts together their report each year in hopes of creating a usable forecast that is more reliable than climatological data alone. In creating it they look at current conditions, forecast models, statistical probabilities, global patterns, and previous hurricane seasons that were characterized by similar conditions as the upcoming season.
One of the biggest predictors you’ll hear about is the ENSO (El Nino Southern Oscillation) pattern. We’re currently in a weak La Nina – evident by the cooler pacific ocean temperatures. This pattern is expected to shift into a neutral pattern. La Nina patterns typically correspond to more active Atlantic hurricane seasons, like we experienced in 2017. The shift to a neutral pattern would likely lead to a corresponding decrease in Atlantic tropical activity as compared to last season.
There is still a large amount of uncertainty in the forecast at this point. The team at CSU will continue to work on it and will release updates on May 31st, July 2nd, and August 2nd.
Storm Track Improvements: The National Hurricane Center is looking ahead to the next season as well. They’ve released a look at their forecast accuracy over the past several decades to analyze their progress.
Track errors have decreased significantly in recent years, especially since the early 2000s. There is still an uptick in the track error more than 2 days out though.
The bottom line: There will always be some uncertainty in any forecast. Take this time to consider your plans for the upcoming season and always stay up to date on the latest forecast with WHNT News 19!