NOAA Forecast: A below-normal Atlantic Hurricane Season is likely this year

Hurricane forecasting evolving with new storm surge products, upgraded modeling

NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center says the 2015 Atlantic hurricane season will likely be below-normal, but that’s no reason to believe coastal areas will have it easy.

For the hurricane season, which officially runs from June 1 to November 30, NOAA is predicting a 70 percent likelihood of 6 to 11 named storms (winds of 39 mph or higher), of which 3 to 6 could become hurricanes (winds of 74 mph or higher), including zero to 2 major hurricanes (Category 3, 4 or 5; winds of 111 mph or higher). While a below-normal season is likely (70 percent), there is also a 20 percent chance of a near-normal season, and a 10 percent chance of an above-normal season.

“A below-normal season doesn’t mean we’re off the hook. As we’ve seen before, below-normal seasons can still produce catastrophic impacts to communities,” said NOAA Administrator Kathryn Sullivan, Ph.D., referring to the 1992 season in which only seven named storms formed, yet the first was Andrew – a Category 5 Major Hurricane that devastated South Florida.

Outlook_2015_FINAL[1]

“The main factor expected to suppress the hurricane season this year is El Niño, which is already affecting wind and pressure patterns, and is forecast to last through the hurricane season,” said Gerry Bell, Ph.D., lead seasonal hurricane forecaster with NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center. “El Niño may also intensify as the season progresses, and is expected to have its greatest influence during the peak months of the season. We also expect sea surface temperatures in the tropical Atlantic to be close to normal, whereas warmer waters would have supported storm development.”

Included in today’s outlook is Tropical Storm Ana, but its pre-season development is not an indicator of the overall season strength. Ana’s development was typical of pre-season named storms, which often form along frontal boundaries in association with a trough in the jet stream. This method of formation differs from the named storms during the peak of the season, which originate mainly from low-pressure systems moving westward from Africa, and are independent of frontal boundaries and the jet stream.

With the new hurricane season comes a new prototype storm surge watch/warning graphic from NOAA’s National Hurricane Center, intended to highlight areas along the Gulf and Atlantic coasts of the United States that have a significant risk of life-threatening inundation by storm surge from a tropical cyclone.

The new graphic will introduce the concept of a watch or warning specific to the storm surge hazard. Storm surge is often the greatest threat to life and property from a tropical cyclone, and it can occur at different times and at different locations from a storm’s hazardous winds. In addition, while most coastal residents can remain in their homes and be safe from a tropical cyclone’s winds, evacuations are often needed to keep people safe from storm surge. Having separate warnings for these two hazards should provide emergency managers, the media, and the general public better guidance on the hazards they face when tropical cyclones threaten.

Also new this season is a higher resolution version (2 km near the storm area) of NOAA’s Hurricane Weather Research and Forecasting model (HWRF), thanks to the upgrades to operational computing. A new 40-member HWRF ensemble-based data assimilation system will also be implemented to make better use of aircraft reconnaissance-based Tail Doppler Radar data for improved intensity forecasts. Retrospective testing of 2015 HWRF upgrades demonstrated a five percent improvement in the intensity forecasts compared to last year.

This week, May 24-30, is National Hurricane Preparedness Week. To help those living in hurricane-prone areas prepare, NOAA offers hurricane preparedness tips, along with video and audio public service announcements at www.hurricanes.gov/prepare.

“It only takes one hurricane or tropical storm making landfall in your community to significantly disrupt your life,” said FEMA Deputy Administrator Joseph Nimmich. “Everyone should take action now to prepare themselves and their families for hurricanes and powerful storms. Develop a family communications plan, build an emergency supply kit for your home, and take time to learn evacuation routes for your area. Knowing what to do ahead of time can literally save your life and help you bounce back stronger and faster should disaster strike in your area.”

NOAA will issue an updated outlook for the Atlantic hurricane season in early August, just prior to the historical peak of the season.

NOAA also issued its outlook for the Eastern Pacific and Central Pacific basins. For the Eastern Pacific hurricane basin, NOAA’s 2015 outlook is for a 70 percent chance of an above-normal hurricane season. That outlook calls for a 70 percent probability of 15 to 22 named storms, of which 7 to 12 are expected to become hurricanes, including 5 to 8 major hurricanes. For the Central Pacific hurricane basin, NOAA’s outlook is for a 70 percent chance of an above-normal season with 5 to 8 tropical cyclones likely.

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70 thoughts on “NOAA Forecast: A below-normal Atlantic Hurricane Season is likely this year

  1. As a Gulf Coast resident – seriously, we pay for these people? What is missing from this report is any mention of NOAA’s track record, any mention of how this “prediction” differs from a bald statement of historical means, or why a “prediction” with a range of 100% of the predicted numbers is of use to anyone. Save us taxpayers some money by firing the people who assemble these predictions and simple issue historical means.

    • Hey Patrick,

      Also as a GCR and given how often they are wrong, I’d bet the other direction. My hurricane shutters are already on order.

      • Gerry
        Right on.
        In the UK, if the Met. Office predicts a drought, I visit Floodkit’s website, and I buy a canoe.

        Auto

      • As another UK inmate if I look at the weather forecast and it says Bar B Que Summer I get in the wet weather gear and if they say Milder Dry Winter get ready for snow and floods. I must admit that I just tend to look out of the window and go with what is happening, now it is warm and sunny at 07.30 am how it will be later we’ll see when it happens! I’ll still be out in the garden playing whatever.

        James Bull

      • Ya, I think the forecasters expect to be off 180 degrees as well. They are really hoping this winter being able to proclaim loudly that the Hurricane season was MUCH worse than predicted by the climate models. That meme plays well with the warmist crowd.

  2. Retrospective testing of 2015 HWRF upgrades demonstrated a five percent improvement in the intensity forecasts compared to last year.

    What was their accuracy in past-year predictions?

  3. With the AMO flipping, the MDR should be somewhat suppressed. Could be the year of the CONUS near shore development. I believe JB commented on that a few months ago.

  4. Just a reminder that President Obama will be at the National Hurricane Center tomorrow to be briefed on the seasonal hurricane forecast and then he will give ANOTHER climate speech. I am sure the whole event will be carefully staged by the White House and there will be no real briefing. If there were, he might hear from NHC’s Science and Operations Officer Dr. Chris Landsea, who had this to say about hurricanes and global warming:
    http://www.aoml.noaa.gov/hrd/Landsea/gw_hurricanes/
    So I’m sure Landseae will be relegated to the background and the POTUS will once again blather on about how “Carbon pollution will cause storms to be stronger.” Just you watch.

    • He is?
      Now I’m suspicious.
      Haven’t they been forecasting lots of hurricanes that never hit?
      Are they now low balling the forecast in hopes they can say, “It’s worse than we thought!”?
      I sincerely hope not.

  5. “NOAA Forecast: A below-normal Atlantic Hurricane Season is likely this year”

    They said as they pulled the dart out of the board.

    • Eustace.
      First, you throw the dart.
      Then – and only then – do you draw the rings around exactly where your dart [arrow, etc] has come to rest.
      Standard management/government procedure [not even tactics . . . . . .]

      Auto

  6. IIRC, the last two season predictions were for above normal activity and reality refused to adopt NOAA’s fantasy lineup. Given their track record, we might actually get a hurricane or two on the Atlantic seaboard as ol’ Ma Nature puts it to NOAA’s new model.

    • Yes, we know absolutely nothing about this year’s weather – it is all guesswork. We’ll find out in a year’s time how good they were at it. But it will be not even of academic interest.

  7. It appears that strength of the Atlantic hurricane season is determined by what happened in the Arctic some 15 years earlier.
    This LINK is hurricane projection originally made in 2011 and updated 2 or 3 years ago

    • Hi vukcevic,

      I wouldn’t put it that way, even though the 2 are linked by a common natural cycle.

      If the AMO(Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation) effects both hurricanes and the Arctic, it make more sense to me to look at what is causing both vs correlating 2 completely different things caused(influenced) by it in a way that shows a 15 year time lag between the elements that may only be related because of the AMO.

      But then, one might argue that something is causing the AMO cycles and this factor would be the actual source of these correlations.

      Regardless, it’s important to use pattern recognition while observing the atmosphere. Patterns/cycles that have repeated numerous times in the past from many natural cycles that didn’t just vanish when CO2 went up..

      Wouldn’t it be great if all we needed to do to understand climate, including global temperatures is to dial into a computer model, the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere in ppm and it would yield high confidence projections.

      • Hi Phil
        I have looked into it, the ‘wiggle’ matching is sporadic but not decisive. Closest match is with the ‘tectonics’ but only in the summer months.
        One curious thing is that for the last 60 years the winter’s and summer’s pressures were in phase, but for the previous 60 they were in the anti-phase.

  8. Alarmist or not, it is still a “forecast.” When I studied numerical analysis, one of the major take-home messages was that extrapolation is *extremely* risky business. With a sufficient number of parameters, any data set can be perfectly ‘fitted’ with any chosen set of orthogonal functions (please forgive the math jargon, but it is important here). The mathematical *model* used does not need to have any connection to the underlying mechanism which produces the data. The greater the sophistication of the model (more parameters) the better the fit, but the uncertainty of interpolations and extrapolations also grows, especially near the ends of the interval. This phenomenon has two names – Runge’s Phenomenon and the Gibbs Phenomenon – depending on the functions used in constructing the model.
    The ‘safest’ way to extrapolate real-world data to the near-future is always to (1) build a model based on the actual physics behind the mechanism involved, and (2) to limit the ‘reach’ of the extrapolation to a fraction of the domain from which data was used to produce the model.
    This is all found in undergraduate textbooks in Numerical Analysis (usually a 3rd year course in the Mathematic Department of a respectable University), but unfortunately among the current scientific ‘cognoscenti’ innumeracy is the order of the day.

    • I second this post. In fact, chaos theory was developed out of demonstrations of the course of errors based upon initial conditions, which cannot be known or modeled exactly. Therefore, future integrations based upon those errors build up to be wildly wrong.

  9. For all the blathering about NOAA’s record in yearly hurricane prediction, there are a couple of important (IMHO) take aways. 1) NOAA says that they expect this season to be likely to be below average, but is possible that we may see more major hurricanes than normal. 2) The more important take away is that will be able (hopefully) give a more accurate estimate of those areas that are liable for for severe flooding from storm surges which affect which areas will need to be evacuated and which areas can “get by” with things like sand bag berms etc.

  10. 3-6 hurricanes so they are giving themselves a 100% margin of error. l like I said before pick a number between 2-15 and allow yourself to be off by 3 and most of the time your wild guess will be very close to the actual number of hurricanes. Then allow yourself to make midseason changes.

  11. All of this is consistent with established climate science.
    The climate science community has said all along that CO2 emissions would result in climate change reductions in severe weather as the planet warms.
    Therefore this is additional proof that significant measures must be taken immediately to curb emissions in order to avoid climate stagnation caused by a reduction in the circulatory effect of storms etc.
    Avid Dappell, PhD

    • Steve Oregon, should there be a /sarc, or wink at the end.

      Don’t you know that global warming will produce climate extremes and catastrophies, more severe weather in any direction. It could even be more severely normal to demonstrate the Warmista case.

  12. Having been totally spanked by their over-predictions in the last two hurricane seasons, is it any wonder that NOAA has decided to heed what nature is telling them and reduce the forecast count this year?

  13. “We also expect sea surface temperatures in the tropical Atlantic to be close to normal, whereas warmer waters would have supported storm development.”

    • Looks like the “worm hole” in the north east Pacific is still there. I wonder if we could use it to access another galaxy. ;-)

      Future salmon runs on the west coast will be below normal? They’ll be hanging about in the cool water a little farther west and emerging salmonoids will not fare as well over the next few years. From last year:
      http://www.cbbulletin.com/431695.aspx

  14. Rats…. That is bad news, indeed.
    I have little faith in their hurricane predictions, so the hurricane drought is likely to end.

    Cynically, I think the low hurricane prediction is a political bet. NOAA will either be right or they can use a “over prediction” hurricane season in Paris in late September. A Win-Win bet.

  15. NOAA’s discussion at that link, with their reasoning for this forecast is solid. Seasonal forecasting like this has less skill vs a 2 week weather forecast for instance but it really is better than than guessing and I think their 70% chance, as well as other probabilities and numbers are reasonable, considering current/expected conditions and the time frame for the projection.

    • Not a lot better than guessing a 70% chance is very nearly a guess. While I in my post a above I say you’ll be very likely close to right by picking a number between 2-15 with range of 3, in fact if you picked a number between 4-12 with a range of three you would still very often be right.

  16. Note that they never reveal the input data or the formula that they use to develop this guess!
    Let me see if I’ve got this right; The warm El Niño in the Pacific causes colder water in the Atlantic. Wow, how does it do that? Must use CO2 as a heat transfer device!!

    /sarc

  17. Being somebody that used to work on the north atlantic i don’t remember captains actually paying any attention to any hurricane forecast until the storm itself actually started to form. Then the weather service would give you accurate forecasts like wind speeds of 10 – 25 knots the days right before the storm which means its going to be really nice or really crappy.

  18. All vicious lies…

    The energy is all being stored up somewhere to be released in a single category gazillion stormy thingy…

    You just wait…..

  19. if you go back an look at previous NOAA predictions, you’ll notice that they’ve increased the size of the range of predicted named storms by about 50%

  20. Well, if the past few years of NO hurricanes is normal, I’d like to see how far below normal they can go.

  21. Lower end numbers are far more likely.
    With ENSO induced strong wind shear,
    virtually all systems will be forced to
    develop outside of the deep Tropics.
    1992 would likely be a good analog.
    7-total storms. Andrew was sheared
    into an open wave before it was dynamically forced in the sub-tropical
    Atlantic.

  22. Dr Kongpop U Yen has been working on the correlation between solar flaring and tropical storm formation and intensification. The correlation is impressive to behold (Large M and X class flaring causes storm formation and intensification, lack of flaring sees them weaken and/or fail to form).

    While ever our sun remains as quiet as a mouse I would expect the hurricane/cyclone/typhoon drought to continue (not that you’d know it, since every storm is now “unprecedented” in the media’s eyes).

  23. Oh, I thought political hacks did the hurricane forecasts with Hollywood productions.

  24. How many years of “below normal” must we experience before “below normal” because “normal”?

  25. How about a post-mortem on last year’s forecast, and maybe for the past 10 years? How good / bad are these forecasts? And please, for the love of God, change the color scheme on the pie chart: low numbers of hurricanes in green, medium number of hurricanes in yellow, high number of hurricanes in red!

  26. An interesting Article on the Major Hurricanes that hit the Gulf Coast in the early 1960s.
    Summary for OilPro Here

    The OilPro article Monster Hurricanes: The Gulf Of Mexico O&G Industry Comes Of Age is based upon a paper in PDF (31MB) by Professor Joseph A. Pratt, Chairman of History at the University of Houston. “The Brave And The Foolhardy: Hurricanes And The Early Offshore Oil Industry,” (pages 117-135) (2005)

    The article is centered around what the Oil Industry learned about major hurricanes as it stepped out into deeper waters on the shelf in the late I950s and during the 1960s.

    The takeaway here was the apparent climate change of a series of catastrophic hurricanes that blew the 100-year storm and 100-year wave predictions out of the water. So, it is an example of a change in extreme weather that can serve as a benchmark in talking about future storms as we bask today in the longest hurricane landfall drought on record.

    Thus for almost twenty years, the offshore industry amassed the data and the experience needed to improve the design of its equipment in the relative calm before major storms returned to the region in the mid-1960s. Three major storms, Hilda (1964), Betsy (1965), and Camille (1969) severely tested the technical system that had evolved in the Gulf of Mexico

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