The calm before the storm?

Forecasters still predicting active hurricane season after slow start

Residents in the Caribbean should not be lulled into a false sense of security by a mild start to the Atlantic hurricane season, forecasters have suggested. 

Experts at Colorado State University have lowered their initial predictions of an active, potentially dangerous storm season. 

But they are still forecasting higher than average activity, with eight hurricanes predicted to strike in the Atlantic before 30 November. 

In their latest offering, Philip Klotzbach and William Gray caution, “We expect an above-average probability of United States and Caribbean major hurricane landfall.” 

They estimate that the remainder of 2013 will have about eight hurricanes, with three of them strengthening into major hurricanes.  

In June, they forecast nine hurricanes, with four becoming major. 

They are also predicting 14 named tropical storms, revised from an estimate of 15 in June. The annual average is 5.5 hurricanes and 10.5 tropical storms. 

So far, there have been four tropical storms in the Atlantic, since the start of hurricane season on 1 June. None of them have developed into hurricanes or proved particularly destructive. 

In their latest report, published 2 August, Messrs. Klotzbach and Gray add, “We continue to anticipate an above-average season in 2013, although we have lowered our forecast slightly due to anomalous cooling in the eastern subtropical and tropical Atlantic.” 

“The probability of US major hurricane landfall and Caribbean major hurricane activity for the remainder of the 2013 season is estimated to be above its long-period average,” the two forecasters said. 

Their report warns there is a 53 per cent chance of a category three hurricane or higher tracking into the Caribbean in the next four months. 

The pair caution that it is impossible to predict hurricane activity exactly in early August but suggest their forecasts, to be published twice monthly between now and the end of the season, have merit in spite of this. 

“We issue these forecasts to satisfy the curiosity of the general public and to bring attention to the hurricane problem.  

“There is a general interest in knowing what the odds are for an active or inactive season. One must remember that our forecasts are based on the premise that those global oceanic and atmospheric conditions, which preceded comparatively active or inactive hurricane seasons in the past provide meaningful information about similar trends in future seasons,” they said. 

The weather forecasters said the latest forecast is based on a “newly-developed extended-range early August statistical prediction scheme developed over the previous 33 years”. 

They said an earlier statistical model that was utilised for several years has also been consulted, and that analogue predictors were also considered.