2013: slowest Atlantic hurricane season in 30 years

A couple of days ago, Dr. Roger Pielke Jr. updated his famous graph of hurricane drought, and despite some ribbing from me on what could happen in May 2014, has confidently extended the drought out to the start of the hurricane season in June 2014:

 

Data here.

NOAA issues this press release today:

Slow Atlantic hurricane season coming to a close.
No major hurricanes formed in the Atlantic basin – first time since 1994

The 2013 Atlantic hurricane season, which officially ends on Saturday, Nov. 30, had the fewest number of hurricanes since 1982, thanks in large part to persistent, unfavorable atmospheric conditions over the Gulf of Mexico, Caribbean Sea, and tropical Atlantic Ocean. This year is expected to rank as the sixth-least-active Atlantic hurricane season since 1950, in terms of the collective strength and duration of named storms and hurricanes.

“A combination of conditions acted to offset several climate patterns that historically have produced active hurricane seasons,” said Gerry Bell, Ph.D., lead seasonal hurricane forecaster at NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center, a division of the National Weather Service. “As a result, we did not see the large numbers of hurricanes that typically accompany these climate patterns.”

Thirteen named storms formed in the Atlantic basin this year. Two, Ingrid and Humberto, became hurricanes, but neither became major hurricanes. Although the number of named storms was above the average of 12, the numbers of hurricanes and major hurricanes were well below their averages of six and three, respectively. Major hurricanes are categories 3 and above.

Suomi NPP satellite peers into Tropical Storm Andrea, the first storm of the season.
Suomi NPP satellite peers into Tropical Storm Andrea, the first storm of the season. (Credit: NOAA/NASA)

Tropical storm Andrea, the first of the season, was the only named storm to make landfall in the United States this year. Andrea brought tornadoes, heavy rain, and minor flooding to portions of Florida, eastern Georgia and eastern South Carolina, causing one fatality.

The 2013 hurricane season was only the third below-normal season in the last 19 years, since 1995, when the current high-activity era for Atlantic hurricanes began.

“This unexpectedly low activity is linked to an unpredictable atmospheric pattern that prevented the growth of storms by producing exceptionally dry, sinking air and strong vertical wind shear in much of the main hurricane formation region, which spans the tropical Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean Sea,” said Bell. “Also detrimental to some tropical cyclones this year were several strong outbreaks of dry and stable air that originated over Africa.”

GOES East satellite tracks Subtropical Storm Melissa, the last storm of the season.
OES East satellite tracks Subtropical Storm Melissa, the last storm of the season. (Credit: NOAA)

Unlike the U.S., which was largely spared this year, Mexico was battered by eight storms, including three from the Atlantic basin and five from the eastern North Pacific. Of these eight landfalling systems, five struck as tropical storms and three as hurricanes.

NOAA and the U.S. Air Force Reserve flew 45 hurricane hunter aircraft reconnaissance missions over the Atlantic basin this season, totaling 435 hours–the fewest number of flight hours since at least 1966.

NOAA will issue its 2014 Atlantic Hurricane Outlook in late May, prior to the start of the season on June 1.

==================================================

No mention of the failure of the predictions in 2013, nor the fact that this year goes against wild claims made by alarmists of increasing hurricanes due to global warming, something Pielke Jr. also illustrates with a new graph:

The graph below shows total US hurricane landfalls 1900 through 2013.

The five-year period ending 2013 has seen 2 hurricane landfalls. That is a record low since 1900. Two other five-year periods have seen 3 landfalls (years ending in 1984 and 1994). Prior to 1970 the fewest landfalls over a five-year period was 6. From 1940 to 1957, every 5-year period had more than 10 hurricane landfalls (1904-1920 was almost as active).

The red line in the graph above shows a decrease in the number of US landfalls of more than 25% since (which given variability, may just be an artifact and not reflecting a secular change). There is no evidence to support more or more intense US hurricanes. The data actually suggests much the opposite.

Dr Ryan Maue adds:

Here’s sorted list of North Atlantic hurricane ACE numbers from 1950-2013 — this year tied for 5th lowest on record http://models.weatherbell.com/ace_thru_dec31_sort.dat

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42 thoughts on “2013: slowest Atlantic hurricane season in 30 years

  1. The first graph shows number of days without a hurricane vs WHAT? Is it supposed to be time? The numbers looks like the cumulative number of storm shown as a linear increasing scale. That is confusing to me without more information.

  2. I contacted Tropical Storm Risk by email earlier this year because their post-2012 assessment of predictions wasn’t published. I eventually had an answer back that the end-result of the season was well below predicted, but they “hadn’t had time” to formally publish. I wonder if they’ll publish after their “20% above long term norm” 2013 prediction from August!
    (PS I have a direct interest in windstorms as well as all other nat cats as I work in the international reinsurance business).

  3. “This is extremely benign weather, just as predicted.” — BC Bill

    Obligatory: “It’s worse than we thought!”

  4. It’s just a pause, within the range of natural variation. It doesn’t change the science which is clear and settled.

    Without urgent action, we’re all going to die. Just send us all of your money and our improved models will keep your children safe.

  5. cc: to Al Gore chief shaman and his pseudoscience production crew and the academic supporters of increased numbers and storm intensity from global warming

  6. “The 2013 Atlantic hurricane season, which officially ends on Saturday, Nov. 30, had the fewest number of hurricanes since 1982″

    1982 had a CAT 1 and CAT 4 hurricane, where as this year we had two CAT 1 hurricanes. I believe 2013 is the smallest hurricane activity recorded since 1950.

  7. @ Mike smith
    The UN FCCC has declared that since Australia is not sending in the cash, they are going to model all Australian children to die from climate appocolypse. The model updates will occur promptly unless you send lots of cash in brown paper bags.

    Strangely, I’m not worried.

  8. “A combination of conditions acted to offset several climate patterns that historically have produced active hurricane seasons,” said Gerry Bell, Ph.D., lead seasonal hurricane forecaster at NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center, a division of the National Weather Service. “As a result, we did not see the large numbers of hurricanes that typically accompany these climate patterns.”

    —–

    Wait. Climate is what is changing. That claim should read:

    “A combination of improving climate conditions acted to offset several weather patterns that historically have produced active hurricane seasons,”

  9. “A combination of conditions acted to offset several climate patterns that historically have produced active hurricane seasons,” said Gerry Bell, Ph.D., lead seasonal hurricane forecaster at NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center”

    Ah, so when a hurricane season is a bust, it’s due to “other” factors, but when it’s active, it’s due to “climate change”. Got it.

  10. But what about the Hiroshima style heat build up in the Earth’s system? Surely it has to be much, much worse that I thought. Free beer tomorrow, calamity tomorrow. Wake me up when something exciting happens with the climate.

  11. ‘“This unexpectedly low activity is linked to an unpredictable atmospheric pattern that prevented the growth of storms by producing exceptionally dry, sinking air and strong vertical wind shear in much of the main hurricane formation region, which spans the tropical Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean Sea,” said Bell.’

    Did he mean to say ‘unpredictable’ or ‘unpredicted’? If he meant to say ‘unpredictable’, what could he mean? That the pattern has not been seen before? That the pattern has been seen before but they have no clue why it occurs? Is he contemplating an appeal to Chaos Theory? (In his favor, at least he would be admitting the existence of something not found in his hurricane theory and, thereby, showing an instinct for the empirical.)

    If he meant to say ‘unpredicted’, then he admits a failure of his hurricane theory. I guess that is why he said ‘unpredictable’.

  12. And there is absolutely no chance of the MSM picking up on this and the prediction failure.

    Anthony, any chance of you emailing Dellingpole and Rose to see if they would run an MSM story on this?

    /ikh

  13. During the 2000’s, when we were extending the record period of growing seasons in the US Cornbelt without a widespread severe drought (prior one was 1988) I insisted that 2 things would happen with certainty.

    1. A widespread severe drought would eventually occur
    2. Human emissions of CO2 would get the blame

    After the record ended at 24 growing seasons with our 2012 drought, both those things happened.

    Here’s 2 more things that will happen with certainty:

    1. A major hurricane will make landfall somewhere in the US eventually
    2. Human emissions of CO2 will get the blame

    Interesting related note: I flew into hurricane Gloria in September 1985 with one of the Hurricane Hunters out of Coral Gable FL. As a television meteorologist, our station thought this would be a great publicity stunt……….which it was. I did a report from Coral Gables the night before, then we put together 3 different reports from video/audio shot before and during the flight that aired during our newscast that week.

    My photographer “lost his cookies” twice. Claimed he was sick already but I think the wild turbulence was the real reason. It was quiet for hours on the way there and back but we were being tossed around quite a bit flying thru some rough patches inside the hurricane. I was loving every second.

    There was another tv meteorologist and photographer on board as guests. They were from Pittsburgh. We thought it was hilarious that meteorologists from Indiana and Pennsylvania were on this trip to cover the hurricane for our viewers living many hundreds of miles from the nearest ocean.

    Maybe, if the alarmists are underestimating future sea levels and hurricane strength…………..never mind, Evansville is 388 feet above sea level and Pittsburgh is double that.

    Awesome experience and I would have loved to do it again. A classmate of mine 30 years ago worked as a flight meteorologist in the late 80’s on these Hurricane Hunters.
    You might have heard of him. Jeff Masters.

    Isn’t it interesting how atmospheric scientists learning the same stuff in college can interpret key elements in our world completely differently?

  14. I started the train to a big season back in March. The consensus that developed 2 months after my forecast was issued matched the ACE number I had. which started at 163 and fell to 143 in the May outlook. I posted on weatherbell.com early in September as to what I thought was going on. 1) The very dry air that has developed over almost all the tropics and helped crush the global ace since the [PDO] flip ( theory, the cooling of the Pacific affects available moisture, which seems intuitive), made itself felt over the ATLANTIC BASIN. My theory was that the very warm water would, as the season wore on, take its toll on the dry air and it would moisten. It did, but something I did not think I would see until the [AMO] flipped occurred. There as a major drop in sst’s in the Arabian Sea and the Bay of Bengal. I had no idea this was going to happen. The Monsoon season was affected ( it became erratic) and also, rapid cooling north of the equator in that part of the world affects the MJO. The MJO would amplify into phase 8 and 1, but NEVER REALLY WENT INTO THE HYPER PHASES of 2 and 3. By mid September, the words of my tropical professor, Dr John Lee at PSU were ringing in my ear, that the fate of the [African] wave train was directly related to the monsoonal circulation in Asia. I was well aware of this as far as something we should all be looking for when the [AMO] went cold, but I was totally fooled this year

    The other “problem” was that the buildup of positive pressures in the northwest Atlantic would [hit hot] and hold. The “Newfoundland wheel” a benchmark of the great warm [AMO] hurricane seasons never held. One high after another came through the northwest [Atlantic], and the key is to stall the high in the northwest [Atlantic], enhancing convergence to the south. Another nail in the coffin of the forecast.

    I am still in awe at the low ace, given the very warm [AMO] and the lack of any warm ENSO. I simply can not find anything close. Look at all the low ACE years, either there was an el nino, or cold [AMO].

    This is a harsh pill to swallow, but like the mid and late 50s, the days of many storms may be coming to an end. That being said, the threat along the east coast, with a cold PDO and warm [AMO], and the big blockbuster storm is certainly there until the [AMO] cools. Lets remember, we have not seen anything on the east coast that could rival 1938,1944,1954 ( Hazel) or the incredible Donna, with hurricane force winds from Florida to New England.

    I also opined on our blog that the last time we saw the se Pacific and [Atlantic] shut down together was in the late 1970s. Usually if the [Atlantic] is down, the [Pacific] is up. It may be that what is a shifting climate cycle ( one has to understand that by flipping from the warm [PDO] to cool [PDO], there are reactions) like in the late in 1970s with the sudden warming of the Pacific, in this case the cooling has started, has an effect also. This is hand waving speculation, I understand but certainly if a certain balance develops and then the main drivers change, there must be some reaction. For now though, the drop in mixing ratios over the tropics ( again weatherbell.com readers have seen several posts on this matter) is opposite the IPCC and EPA arguments for “trapping hot spots” . That being said, its disappointing, perhaps embarrassing, that the guy who constantly is bringing this up, missed this. For me, it will rank up there with missing the warmth of Jan 2006, which I still wake up in a cold sweat thinking about.

    One of the most odd things was the forecast for the summer we had was as good as it gets. Usually when one goes awry ( seasonal forecast) so does the other, as there is linkage in patterns. As for me, its a bust I am well aware of and am continuing to dig in on. It will not simply disappear as a side note for me. I hate losing more than I like winning

    [Please the check that the “hit hot” change is valid. (You also hate using capital “A”, PDO and AMO more than lower cases, don’t you? 8<) Mod]

  15. The map of the track of Atlantic tropical storms/hurricanes this year is telling. This was a weak season. Many of the storms would have escaped detection in the pre-satellite times.

  16. The predictor analog years I use for my lunar declinational tidal forecast, 1994, 1976, 1958, and 1940, are close the ones Joe Bastardi mentions above.

    I was going to post a low hurricane forecast at the beginning of the season, based on these years of low activity, but did not have enough data to base it on, other than the analog years in general.

    The whole global turbulence content of the weather systems is dependent on the angle of the lunar declination, at the peak of culmination we had lots of storms in 2005-2007, now near the minimum declinational angle at culmination, the zonal flows are weaker, and along with the low solar activity, much more meridional patterns are dominating.

    I expect this to continue for several more years, before the lunar declinational angle gets above 22 degrees either side of the equator and comes in phase with the solar apparent declination mid summer and winter to give rise to more energetic tidal bulges that will bring a return increase in severe weather.

  17. Maybe it’s just me, but it sounds like the people talking about the season almost seemed disappointed that we didn’t get pounded with major storms, am I imagining that?

  18. I don’t remember Jeff Masters saying too much about how slow this season has been for hurricanes but he sure hyped the Filipino hurricane and managed to tell everyone how October was the 6th hottest October for ever n ever.

  19. @Joe Bastardi – “I hate losing more than I like winning”

    That is my motto! But your narrative and explanation makes you a winner. The ability to make a forecast and then admit you missed it. Thanks for the explanation. Fascinating reading and very informative.

  20. Joseph Bastardi writes:

    “This is a harsh pill to swallow, but like the mid and late 50s, the days of many storms may be coming to an end.”

    Like all bitter pills of the mind, it means that you are alive, conscious, focused, an empiricist, and not a top down Alarmist scientist. Many congratulations to you.

    Your post is fascinating in that you refer to a huge “web” of climate forces that are relevant to explaining the “unpredictable” phenomenon. If only Alarmist scientists had such a capacious mind.

    There will be a mature climate science within 100 years.

  21. Joe.
    You may have busted but congrats on being man enough to acknowledge it. What operational meteorologist forecasting for dozens of years hasn’t done this hundreds of times. Some hurt much more than others. We take the medicine and still love forecasting exactly for the reason that causes us to miss. If it were easy or we were right all the time, then the challenge would be less and everybody could do it.

    This is one reason that I believe causes meteorologists to be better grounded to reality, especially with regards to using models vs most climate scientists.

    We look at numerous weather models every day, updated constantly and for simplicity, let’s say try to forecast short term weather out to 2 weeks(a hurricane season forecast like yours is a different animal) based on guidance, pattern recognition and so on.

    This is what we do as time goes on. Adjust temperatures, adjust precip, adjust wind……..adjust, adjust, adjust. We dial in new, fresher data ASAP and give that greater weight. It’s what good operational meteorologists do.

    Adjusting(or updating) a forecast is not seen as being wrong earlier as much as it is wanting to be RIGHT NOW.
    How many updates have you made to your daily weather forecasts this year Joe?
    20? 50? 100? Often just small, timely updates(which is why most of them don’t end up being huge changes).

    A meteorologist using models going out 2 weeks updated every day, will have hundreds of opportunities each year to observe which model(s) performed best under which circumstances. Sometimes, all the models missed badly for the same reason. We depend on these models. Without them, forecasting weather accurately would be impossible but watching their performance countless times and getting burned enough of those times by believing something on the models that didn’t happen keeps us in the real world. The one where models are just solutions to mathematical equations to represent, to the best of our knowlege, the physics of the atmosphere. We know that initial conditions are never captured perfectly. Small errors can amplify into big errors with time.

    Climate scientists using global climate models have a much different mentality. A 30 year old climate scientist using global climate models to make his first 50 year forecast in 1990, will be 80 at the end of that period.

    During those 50 years, if the actual climate diverges from the climate model, how long does it take for his response?
    Climate scientists, convinced of the physics they represented with mathematical equations in their models have let many, many years go by as empirical data from the real world is screaming out to make adjustments.

    How often should one update a 50 or 100 year global temperature forecast?
    Certainly not every year. Maybe not 5 years. Most might think 10 years is sufficient time, some 17 years.

    Regardless, when the end point is 50 or 100 years, it allows the climate scientist(s) using global climate models to escape the consequences that Joe B just suffered and manned up to when he busted his 2013 hurricane forecast.

    http://www.drroyspencer.com/2013/06/still-epic-fail-73-climate-models-vs-measurements-running-5-year-means/

    This graph is evidence. Instead of making excuses for why the planet is not heating up as expected/projected, they should do like Joe.

  22. Max™ on November 25, 2013 at 5:19 pm
    Maybe it’s just me, but it sounds like the people talking about the season almost seemed disappointed that we didn’t get pounded with major storms, am I imagining that?
    ————-

    I noticed that disappointed in one of our local weather forecasters in Philadelphia. He made a comment with a strange anxious tone one morning when talking about a possible hurricane late in the season. He said something like “this may be the hurricane that we’ve waited SO long”. Right after he said it there was a pregnant pause as if he realized the awkwardness of the Freudian slip. It was really the tone that got me, like a kid who has waited a long time to get a much sought after toy.

  23. dborth says:
    November 25, 2013 at 1:56 pm

    “Persistent unfavorable conditions” My my.

    Just under 3 months ago…

    http://www.noaanews.noaa.gov/stories2013/20130808_atlantichurricaneupdate.html

    Oops.

    Indeed. From the linked forecast:

    The updated outlook calls for a 70 percent chance of an above-normal season. Across the Atlantic Basin for the entire season – June 1 to November 30 – NOAA’s updated seasonal outlook (which includes the activity to date of tropical storms Andrea, Barry, Chantal, and Dorian) projects a 70 percent chance for each of the following ranges:

    13 to 19 named storms (top winds of 39 mph or higher), including
    6 to 9 hurricanes (top winds of 74 mph or higher), of which
    3 to 5 could be major hurricanes (Category 3, 4 or 5; winds of at least 111 mph)

    These ranges are above the 30-year seasonal averages of 12 named storms, six hurricanes and three major hurricanes.

    Actual named storms were 13, the predicted minimum and just 1 above the 30 year average — which hardly shreaks “above-normal”. Actual hurricanes were 2, way below the predicted minimum of 6, and major hurricanes were 0 (that’s zero) where the predicted minimum was 3.

    So the seasonal prediction from August 2013 was to take the 30 year averages as the minimum, with the maximum in each case 50% above the minimum. The actual record was under the 30 year average by more than 50% for both hurricanes and major hurricanes.

    Now to be fair, Dr. Gerry Bell only claimed a 70% chance — far short of the IPCC 95% confidence that it’s going to get much, much warmer much faster than we previously thought and it’s absolutely all our fault. If I assume there is genuine science behind the NOAA projections published in August, it only emphasies just how limited our current understanding is. If we can be so far off on major local weather phenomena just four months out, just how can anyone claim 95% confidence on global climate behavior over 50 years or more?

  24. Next up, a prediction of an average or slightly warmer winter forecast for most parts of the country that is also slanted to the warm side but with a splash of vagueness. Burrrrr

  25. So far a Google News search for Slow Atlantic Hurricane Season yields 3 responses to the NOAA press release, two bloggers and a Miami TV station. The Washington Post’s Capital Weather Gang posting by Brian McNoldy is the most extensive article that includes material not covered by the press release and addresses the GW question.

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/capital-weather-gang/wp/2013/11/25/2013-atlantic-hurricane-season-wrap-up-least-active-in-30-years/

    He catches some flak in the reader’s response area for not stating there’s a link between climate and the season. There might be a few more media stories come Nov. 30th and the official end of the season, but so far this has only been a trickle.

  26. I sent an email to NOAA asking them why they used the wording, “….unfavorable atmospheric conditions”? Should’t conditions that reduce property damage and loss of lives be called “favorable atmospheric conditions”?

  27. Hmmm.
    Asked to do a survey o the BBC’s Audio and Video news site tonight, I was, perhaps, a little short of being a watermelon. Forgive my infelicities, but I wrote, when asked ‘what I did not like': –

    BBC bias. Global warming [not for 17 years]. yet CO2 has kept on rising. Oceans? Clouds? The Sun? Not for the Mannian true-believers!

    Slowest Atlantic hurricane season for years – worst five years [for the warmist religion: but best for those on the coasts of the US] in the Instrumental record – see –

    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2013/11/25/2013-slowest-hurricane-season-in-30-years/#more-98123

    Yesterdays’ Energy Producers profits ‘up’ – but only for selected bits of their businesses – [standard BBC bias] – actually profits were down overall [despite inflation, or, possibly, investment] – and this was included in the BBC article – yet the Headline was – Profits ‘UP’! Are you surprised?. The power producers’ shares will a bit part-fund many ordinary people’s pensions [though possibly not the good and the great of the BBC] – so cutting t h e I r profits impacts m y retirement.
    I can’t be arsed to formally complain – but this is a suitable chance to vent a little bit of bile.

    BBC falling over themselves to give the post-Brezhnevian Salmond, A., a splurge on Scottish Independence; there truly is another side to the story – which [BBC bias] was only weakly covered.

    And poor Ed Millipede and his ‘cost of living’ – nothing to do with the horrendous hames Nu-Lab made of the UK economy [‘all the bankers’ fault’] – but who smashed pension funds?
    Who expanded Government spending who [failed to] abolish boom and bust?
    And the biased BBC – ah the Coalition [Coalition, remember, with the multi-faceted Tories, and Liberal [except when you disagree] Democrats [except when it’s fair votes and a redrawing of constituency boundaries, when FAIRNESS AND DEMOCRACY GO RIGHT DOWN THE KHARZI ] hasn’t put right in thirty eight months what Labour took ten or more years to smash . . . .

    Auto

  28. Leonard Weinstein on November 25, 2013 at 12:57 pm
    “The first graph shows number of days without a hurricane vs WHAT? Is it supposed to be time? The numbers looks like the cumulative number of storm shown as a linear increasing scale. That is confusing to me without more information.”

    Yes, it is major US landfalling hurricane number (since 1900) vs. days. Each bar is a single, major hurricane that had a US landfall, with the y-value being the number of days since the previous such landfall. (The exception is that the last bar is for either the current day, or in this case, a meaningful day in the future.)

    I’m not sure why this graph is limited to US landfalls. For instance, in 2010, Hurricane Karl made landfall in Mexico as a Cat. 3 storm.

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