Today’s Editorial for April 08: Forecasts don’t matter with hurricanes

Colorado State University
scientists Phil Klotzbach and William Gray issued their updated 2010 Atlantic
basin hurricane forecast yesterday.

The two scientists believe this
will be a very active hurricane season and they are forecasting significantly
more named storms, hurricanes and major hurricanes than average.

Because they flopped badly with
their forecasts in 2006 and 2007, many people have discounted hurricane
forecasts, even those that come from the National Hurricane Center in Miami.

Indeed, forecasting hurricane
activity in April or May can be difficult, especially since the peak part of
the season doesn’t start until August. 
But there are prevailing climate conditions that can give meteorologists
a good indication whether the upcoming season will be active or not.

The public, however, should not put
too much weight on the exact number of hurricanes forecast.  For instance, in 2005, when there were a
record 28 named storms and 15 hurricanes, the Cayman Islands wasn’t really impacted
at all.

On the other side of that coin,
just because there is a prediction of quiet hurricane season doesn’t mean any
particular location might not get hit. 
Just ask the folks from South Miami-Dade County about what happened in
1992, when, in spite of predictions of a quiet hurricane season because of an
El Niño event, Category 5 Hurricane Andrew slammed into the area. 

It was, in fact, a quiet hurricane
season in 1992 for most people, although South Floridians would probably disagree.

As our Head of Meteorological
Services Fred Sambula likes to point out, all it takes is one hurricane to hit
where you live to make it an active hurricane season.

It is therefore vital that people
prepare well for every hurricane season, no matter what the forecasts say.

Human beings are curious by nature
and long-range hurricane forecasts help satisfy our curiosity. However, we must
always keep in mind that it’s not the forecasted numbers, but the constant
threat of one hurricane with Cayman’s name on it, for which we must prepare.