NOAA Predicts a Below-Normal Eastern Pacific Hurricane Season

While the forecast for the Atlantic Hurricane season is active and for 12-16 named storms, the Pacific forecast is just in time to coincide with recent pronouncements of no link between global warming and hurricane frequency, this just in:






Contact: Carmeyia Gillis 301-763-8000, ext. 7163

NOAA Predicts a Below-Normal Eastern Pacific Hurricane Season

       NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center today

announced that projected climate conditions point

to a below-normal hurricane season in the eastern Pacific this year.

       “Living in a coastal state means having a

plan for each and every hurricane season. Review

or complete emergency plans now – before a storm

threatens,” said retired Navy Vice Adm. Conrad C.

Lautenbacher, Ph.D., under secretary of commerce

for oceans and atmosphere and NOAA administrator.

“Planning and preparation is the key to storm survival and recovery.”

       The Climate Prediction Center outlook

calls for a 70 percent probability of a below

normal season, a 25 percent probability of a near

normal season, and a 5 percent probably of an above normal season.

       Allowing for forecast uncertainties,

seasonal hurricane forecasters estimate a 60 to

70 percent chance of 11 to 16 named storms,

including five to eight hurricanes and one to

three major hurricanes (category 3, 4, or 5 on

the Saffir-Simpson scale).

       An average eastern Pacific hurricane

season produces 15 to 16 named storms, with nine

becoming hurricanes and four to five becoming major hurricanes.

       Among the factors influencing this year’s

eastern Pacific outlook are the multi decadal

signal – the atmospheric conditions that have

decreased hurricane activity over the eastern

Pacific Ocean since 1995 – and the expected

lingering effects of La Niña.

       “La Nin?a conditions have weakened since

February and may become neutral by summer’s end,”

said Gerry Bell, Ph.D., lead seasonal hurricane

forecaster at the center. “We typically see less

hurricane activity in the eastern Pacific when La Nin?a is active or neutral.”

       “The outlook is a general guide to the

overall seasonal hurricane activity,”

Lautenbacher said. “It does not predict whether,

where or when any of these storms may hit land.

That is the job of the National Hurricane Center after a storm forms.”

       Bill Read, director of NOAA’s National

Hurricane Center, said, “Our forecasters are

ready to track any tropical cyclone, from a

depression to a hurricane, which forms in the

eastern Pacific. We urge coastal residents to

have a hurricane plan in place before the season

begins and NHC will continue to provide the best possible forecast.”

         Eastern Pacific tropical storms most

often track westward over open waters, sometimes

reaching Hawaii and beyond. However, some

occasionally head toward the northeast, and may

bring rainfall to the arid southwestern United

States during the summer months. Also, during any

given season, one or two tropical storms can

affect western Mexico or Central America.

Residents, businesses, and government agencies of

coastal and near-coastal regions should always

prepare prior to each and every hurricane season

regardless of the seasonal hurricane outlook.

       The eastern Pacific hurricane season runs

from May 15 through November 30, with peak

activity from July through September.

       The National Oceanic and Atmospheric

Administration, an agency of the U.S. Commerce

Department, is dedicated to enhancing economic

security and national safety through the

prediction and research of weather and

climate-related events and information service

delivery for transportation, and by providing

environmental stewardship of our nation’s coastal

and marine resources. Through the emerging Global

Earth Observation System of Systems (GEOSS), NOAA

is working with its federal partners, more than

70 countries and the European Commission to

develop a global monitoring network that is as

integrated as the planet it observes, predicts and protects.

On the Web:

NOAA Eastern Pacific Hurricane Season Outlook:

NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center:

NOAA’s National Hurricane Center:

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Gary Gulrud
May 22, 2008 9:50 am

Uh, I’ll take the over.

Gary Gulrud
May 22, 2008 10:09 am

D’Aleo on the subject if focussed more on Atlantic:

May 22, 2008 10:46 am

Not sure it is good news considering that they over estimated the last 2 years.

Wondering Aloud
May 22, 2008 11:26 am

I’m with Gary
Based on the recent success rate of these predictions I think people should evacuate coastal areas at once.

May 22, 2008 12:01 pm

Why don’t they just stop issuing the forecasts? Does anyone listen to them anymore?

May 22, 2008 12:03 pm

The just ended SH cyclone season around Australia was the quietest in at least 20 years, after model predictions of a well above average season. Prediction was for 6+ landfalls. We got one, barely cat 1, storm.
The models were completely wrong, and we may well be seeing a cyclical decline in hurricane/cyclone frequency due to PDO, AMO, etc.
Note, hurricanes are called cyclones or tropical cyclones in the SH and tropics.

Don B
May 22, 2008 2:14 pm

In contrast to NOAA’s prediction, Colorado State’s Klotzbach and Gray forecast an above average hurricane season for the East Coast. Dr. Gray has been a leading hurricane expert for years, but has deferred to his associate as he spends more time on the global warming issue.

May 22, 2008 7:26 pm

While it would make me very happy to have the same kind of hurricane season as last year, we Floridians do need to have the tropical rains that the storms bring. I’m hoping for depressions. I’m sure Georgia would be right happy to see a nice tropical depression as well.

Pierre Gosselin
May 23, 2008 6:27 am

Predicting the hurricane season is like predicting the earth’s general climate in 50 years. Keep guessing and eventually you’ll get lucky and get it right.

May 23, 2008 8:10 am

Don B (14:14:06) :
“In contrast to NOAA’s prediction, Colorado State’s Klotzbach and Gray forecast an above average hurricane season for the East Coast.”
NOAA’s prediction, at least in the context of this post was for the Pacific East Coast, not the Atlantic.
I don’t know beans about the Pacific, but I’d assume that a negative PDO with its cold current along the coast would make life challenging for eastern Pacific storms. The main connecton between the Pacific Ocean and the Atlantic Hurricanes is that La Nina is associated with less vertical shear, and TCs can’t handle shear. El Ninos bring shear, and a developing El Nino can clobber a hurricane season.
The Klotzbach/Gray forecast in April used a new forecasting scheme they say worked much better in hindcasting. Their next update will be on June 3rd. It will be interesting to see if the negative PDO has impacts beyond the prevalence of fewer El Ninos and more La Ninas.
One thing I like about their forecasts and season review is their openness when things go wrong.

May 23, 2008 10:23 am

Given the record over the past several years, I’ld be worried this year.

May 23, 2008 2:38 pm

Good news for the West coast is bad news for the East. It’s pretty well known that the total number of hurricanes in the Atlantic and Pacific basins is usual close to the same number each year. Active Pacific=InActive Atlantic. And vice-versa…

May 27, 2008 6:41 pm

Here is NOAA’s Atlantic Hurricane season forecast issued on May 22. I’m not real fond of theirs as they have a marvelously vague patina. E.g. the report says “The Climate Prediction Center’s 2008 Atlantic Hurricane Season Outlook calls a 90% probability of a near-normal or above-normal hurricane season.” If they only added below normal, they could claim 100%. The Klotzbach/Gray forecasts emphsize the expected numbers, not the error bars, and are more interesting reading to boot. NOAA seems to want to take some of the wind from the sails and posts their forecasts a few days earlier than Kotzbach/Gray.

1. Expected 2008 Activity
This Outlook is a general guide to the expected overall activity for the 2008 Atlantic hurricane season. It is not a seasonal hurricane landfall forecast, and it does not imply levels of activity for any particular area
The expected conditions during the 2008 Atlantic hurricane season are related to two main climate signals: 1) the continuation of conditions (called the multi-decadal signal) that have been conducive to above-normal Atlantic hurricane activity since 1995 , including above-normal sea-surface temperatures in the eastern tropical Atlantic Ocean, and 2) a possible La Niña influence or ENSO-neutral conditions during the peak months (August-October) of the season.
Historically, seasons with climate patterns similar to those expected this year have produced a wide range of activity, and have been associated with both near-normal and above-normal seasons. This outlook considers the historical distribution of activity for these climate factors, uncertainties in the La Niña impacts, and the possibility of other unpredictable factors also influencing the season. Based on these factors, we estimate a 90% chance of a near-normal to above-normal 2008 Atlantic hurricane season. While an above-normal season is most likely (65% chance), there is a significant 25% chance of a near-normal season and a 10% chance of a below-normal season. See NOAA definitions of above-, near-, and below-normal seasons.
An important measure of the total seasonal activity is NOAA’s Accumulated Cyclone Energy (ACE) index, which accounts for the collective intensity and duration of named storms and hurricanes during the season. Based on the above factors, we estimate a 60%-70% chance the 2008 seasonal ACE range will be 100%-210% of the median. This range can be satisfied even if the numbers of named storms, hurricanes, or major hurricanes fall outside their likely ranges. If La Niña persists, the probability increases that the activity could be at or above the high end of the indicated ACE range.
The likely (60%-70% chance) ranges of activity for 2008 (each of which is seen in about two-thirds of similar seasons in the historical record): are 12-16 Named Storms, 6-9 Hurricanes, and 2-5 Major Hurricanes. Most of this activity is expected during August through October, the peak months of the Atlantic hurricane season.

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