Busy ’08 hurricane season forecast

The Colorado State University Department of Atmospheric team of Philip Klotzbach and William Gray have forecasted an above-average 2008 hurricane season with regard to tropical storm activity.

The duo has predicted 13 named storms (9.6 was the 50-year average between 1950 and 2000); seven hurricanes (5.9 is the average); and three intense hurricanes of Category 3 strength or above (2.3 is the average).

The predictions are based on December climatology and statistical forecast methodology based on 58 years of data.

Klotzbach and Gray’s predictions have been under fire in the U.S. media recently because they were considerably off the past three years. The pair significantly under-predicted the record activity of the 2005 hurricane season, and then significantly over-predicted storm activity 2006 and 2007. The 2007 hurricane season did turn out to have more than average tropical activity in relation to the number of named storms. However there weren’t as many hurricanes or major hurricanes as the two scientists forecasted.

The scientists state they issue the reports because people are curious to know how active the next year is likely to be with regard to hurricane activity, and it is possible to say something about the probability of the activity.

‘We would never have issued these early December forecasts or any other forecasts unless we had a statistical model developed over a long hind-cast period which showed significant skill,’ their forecast report states.

Klotzbach and Gray expect the 2008 Atlantic hurricane season activity to be 125 per cent of the long-term average. Their forecast also predicts an above-average risk of the landfall of a major hurricane in the Caribbean.