NOAA: Increased likelihood of below-normal Atlantic hurricane season

Updated outlook calls for 90 percent probability of below-normal season

The NOAA Climate Prediction Center’s updated2015 Atlantic Hurricane Season Outlook calls for a 90 percent chance of a below-normal hurricane season. A below-normal season is now even more likely than predicted in May, when the likelihood of a below-normal season was 70 percent.

“Tropical storms and hurricanes can and do strike the United States, even in below-normal seasons and during El Niño events,” said Gerry Bell, Ph.D., lead seasonal hurricane forecaster with NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center. “Regardless of our call for below-normal storm activity, people along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts should remain prepared and vigilant, especially now that the peak months of the hurricane season have started.”


Two tropical storms already have struck the United States this year. Ana made landfall in South Carolina in May, and Bill made landfall in Texas in June.

The 90 percent probability of a below-normal season is the highest confidence level given by NOAA since seasonal hurricane outlooks began in 1998.


Ana as a subtropical storm, May 8, 2015.(Credit: NOAA)

The updated outlook also lowers the overall expected storm activity this season. The outlook now includes a 70 percent chance of 6-10 named storms (from 6-11 in the initial May Outlook), of which 1-4 will become hurricanes (from 3-6 in May), and 0-1 will become major hurricanes (from 0-2 in May). These ranges – which include the three named storms to-date (Ana, Bill, and Claudette) – are centered well below the seasonal averages of 12 named storms, 6 hurricanes and three major hurricanes.

Forecasters attribute the high likelihood of a below-normal season to three primary factors:El Niño has strengthened as predicted, and NOAA’s latest El Niño forecast calls for a significant El Niño to continue through the remainder of the hurricane season;Atmospheric conditions typically associated with a significant El Niño, such as strong vertical wind shear and enhanced sinking motion across the tropical Atlantic and Caribbean Sea, are now present. These conditions make it difficult for storms to develop, and they are predicted to continue through the remaining four months of the hurricane season; andTropical Atlantic sea-surface temperatures are predicted to remain below average and much cooler than the rest of the global tropics.The Atlantic hurricane season runs from June 1 through November 30.

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August 6, 2015 8:39 am

Weatherbell had made this prediction all along. NOAA should give credit where it is due.

Reply to  Dawtgtomis
August 6, 2015 2:18 pm

Are you suggesting they used Weatherbell’s forecast?
You might also want to check out from last December which says:

We discontinued our early December quantitative hurricane forecast in 2012 and are now giving a more qualitative discussion of the factors which will determine next year’s Atlantic basin hurricane activity. One of the big uncertainties for the 2015 Atlantic basin hurricane season is if the currently developing weak El Niño will persist through next summer.

As far as I know, all the seasonal forecasting groups know of each other but produce their own forecasts. Heck, the NOAA forecasts were started by students of Bill Gray.

Reply to  Ric Werme
August 6, 2015 2:40 pm

I produced this forecast in the late 2011 and updated in 2012
No idea what happened since, but it does say ‘below normal’ somewhere around 2015.

Reply to  Ric Werme
August 20, 2015 6:11 pm

They had to hold until they saw that the super El Nino they predicted last spring was going to happen (and no one was more surprised than they were that this may actually come true).

August 6, 2015 8:43 am

A below-normal season is now even more likely than predicted in May,…….
…it’s August
Why do they even bother?

Reply to  Latitude
August 6, 2015 9:10 am

Indeed, why even predict at all? Do the predictions actually change any behaviors at all? People should still be prepared for hurricanes.

Bryan A
Reply to  Dan
August 6, 2015 10:28 am

I think that the prediction is just so they can finally say…See we are right about the climate

Reply to  Dan
August 6, 2015 12:22 pm

“I think that the prediction is just so they can finally say…See we are – at last – right about something!”
An improvement, no?

Reply to  Dan
August 6, 2015 12:50 pm

+1 Dan. The prediction seems to serve no purpose whatsoever.

Jay Turberville
Reply to  Dan
August 6, 2015 1:52 pm

I don’t know, but I’d assume that some businesses might find a use for such predictions.

Bob Diaz
Reply to  Dan
August 6, 2015 2:02 pm

I would hope that people, including those in change would always be prepared and there are degrees of being prepared. Thus, if the probability of a major increase occurs, those in charge should increase the level of preparation. This assumes that local governments are run by people who are logical and reasonable, which seems like a flawed assumption.

Reply to  Dan
August 6, 2015 2:20 pm

Why do they bother? September and October are usually the months of peak activity.

Reply to  Dan
August 6, 2015 4:52 pm

Jay Turberville- Businesses in hurricane-prone areas will not base their prepardness on forecasts. They will have their plans and budgets firmly in place with the expectation that the worst-case scenario will become a reality. Governments will use this as an excuse to spend their weather emergency funds on other things, like meetings in Hawaii.

Reply to  Dan
August 7, 2015 3:46 am

Jay Turberville
August 6, 2015 at 1:52 pm
I don’t know, but I’d assume that some businesses might find a use for such predictions.
The Gulf/Atlantic coast is 3,500 miles. The forecast, “there might be a storm somewhere, someday,” is far too broad to be actionable.

Reply to  Dan
August 7, 2015 5:30 am

A single tropical storm can be devastating if you are the one that is hit, so you would be absolutely foolish to not prepare despite the forecast.

george e. smith
Reply to  Latitude
August 6, 2015 10:53 am

It means that in nine out of ten reruns of their model, the hurricane frequency was below normal.
But since we can’t have ten reruns of the 2015 Atlantic hurricane season; then nobody knows what is going to happen.
Your guess is as good as mine (or theirs).
In just 48 hours, it will be a whole week since Rowdy Rhonda Rousey beat the crap out of the Brazillian Bulldog, in 34 seconds flat; but if you are a masochist, you can still pay $50 regular or $65 HD , so you don’t have to take my word for it.
So what if it is already August; they still have plenty of time for them to sucker others into believing their new prediction of a 95% likely hurricane deficit season.

Reply to  george e. smith
August 6, 2015 11:53 am

George, I meant the season is 1/2 over already….they have no choice but to call it below average
Then they try to act like this is some great prediction

george e. smith
Reply to  george e. smith
August 7, 2015 12:05 pm

Touche ! Lat; went clear over my head.
Well they actually have to wait till the end of the season to find out what the average is.
Funny that you can’t tell what is average until you stop gathering data.
Average is like a sleeping pill for statisticians.
And just remember roughly half of us are below average; well at least median if it isn’t a normal distribution; so cut me some slack !

Reply to  Latitude
August 8, 2015 9:33 am

Don’t you just love the way these people can change their predictions midstream and get away with it. Imagine a stockbroker being able to do that, would he ever be wrong?

August 6, 2015 8:58 am

How long is it since a major hurricane made landfall in USA? This is starting to look really bad for the Alarmists!

Reply to  Jeff in Calgary
August 6, 2015 9:54 am

I just looked it up. 3573 days and counting…

Bryan A
Reply to  Jeff in Calgary
August 6, 2015 10:29 am

80 Days away from a full 10 years

Reply to  Jeff in Calgary
August 6, 2015 5:45 pm

I’m surprised the Alarmists aren’t trumpeting this hurricane “pause” as further proof of AGW.
After all, it is not absolute temperature that drives extreme weather events but the energy gradient. So given that the majority of warming is going to take place at the poles, the energy gradient will be reduced, ergo less hurricanes.
Hmmm…perhaps I ought to shut up, i wouldn’t want to give them ideas!

Reply to  Jeff in Calgary
August 7, 2015 5:31 am

Nah, they won’t speak well of global warming if their lives depend on it.

george e. smith
Reply to  Jeff in Calgary
August 6, 2015 10:58 am

Well some people say that tropical storm Sandy was a major storm, but for most of its life, it really didn’t amount to much of anything from its birth over the African deserts, to its demise up north near Canada.
Only when you cherry pick the data, for the short while it was in the vicinity of the US East coast, did it really do anything.
Another one of those frequent unprecedented climate events.

Reply to  george e. smith
August 6, 2015 12:21 pm

Major is defined as Cat 3 or higher. Sandy peaked at Cat 1, and was a post tropical depression when it made landfall.

August 6, 2015 9:10 am

YAY! I’m going saltwater fishing in S. Carolina next month. Looks like I probably won’t get blown off the water. (You all do realize how much a gale force wind cuts down on casting distance, don’t you?)
I also note the inverse relationship of CO2 to Atlantic hurricanes. As CO2 has been steadily rising, the number of Atlantic hurricanes has been decreasing. If we can get CO2 up to about 700-800ppm, then I should strongly consider building that little retirement cottage somewhere in S. Carolina along the coast, eh? ;o)

Matt Bergin
Reply to  H.R.
August 6, 2015 9:24 am

If you notice a drop in range when casting during a tropical storm or a gale you are probably casting upwind. If you turn 180 degrees you should find your casting range increased substantially. 🙂

george e. smith
Reply to  Matt Bergin
August 6, 2015 11:12 am

I built a beautiful 4 weight 7 foot 9 inch fly rod on a very special custom blank built from S-glass. I took it down to Baja Mexico on a July fishing trip, loaded up with a 4 1/2 weight Scientific Anglers floating line (90 ft WF).
An expert caster stood out in a 25 mph steady wind, and proceeded to cast the entire 90 foot line down wind with that rod.
Nobody was particularly impressed; until I pointed out to them, that he was also laying out the entire 90 foot of line, in the air on his back cast; the forward cast, then came for free. well it was a very special rod, which I then gave to the guy who was casting it. That was easier than trying to wrestle him to get it back.
But then I have the only other pair of blanks for that rod in the entire world. The casting expert works for the Texas company that built those special S-glass blanks.
g So have fun out there in the briny.

Reply to  Matt Bergin
August 6, 2015 11:48 am

A. It’s not pretty when an 8oz sinker blows straight back at ya. ;o)
B. Yeah, you can turn 180 degrees to the wind, but you don’t catch much 250 yards onto the beach. ;o) :o)
C. Oh, and the flying fish go by you a near supersonic speeds… they’ll jerk the net right out of your hands. ;o) ;o) ;o)
george e.,
That was one HE|| of a back cast!
Take care of those blanks. Don’t let some niece or nephew jamb ’em into the ground for driveway markers.
Tight lines,

george e. smith
Reply to  Matt Bergin
August 7, 2015 12:25 pm

@ H.R.
“””””….. george e.,
That was one HE|| of a back cast! …..”””””
When the company (TFO) first made this blank (the prototype) we all got to cast it at the Denver Tackle Show (for the industry). It was a total dog, didn’t cast anything like a 4-weight should.
So this casting expert (he’s Polish) tried different lines on it, and by the time he had a wF-8 on it, he was casting it all the way around the convention center. It was an 8 instead of a 4.
The designer, had used his normal deflection curves for a high modulus carbon fiber blank, instead of for S-glass, so the 4 line simply wasn’t loading the rod anywhere near its optimum deflection.
So he went back to the drawing board, and recalculated it for a true 4-line, and he made three blanks. I built up the first one, and that was the rod I took to Baja.
He fell in love with it, so I gave it to him, and they gave me the remaining two blanks. So I have the whole world supply..
From his new design formula, he figured out and built me a 9 foot 14 weight rod (four piece) in S-glass, and that thing can stop anything up to a Los Angeles class submarine.
I have the only one in existence, plus spare blank parts, in case I bust something. (car door).
S-glass is much better than carbon for fly rods (stress more energy)

Alan Robertson
Reply to  H.R.
August 6, 2015 10:25 am

Uh, that’s “Y’all do realize…”

Reply to  Alan Robertson
August 6, 2015 11:51 am

I know, Alan. My mother was from so far down south in Texas, she had to go 200 miles north to hear a southern accent.

george e. smith
Reply to  H.R.
August 6, 2015 11:02 am

Well a gale force wind from behind you, can do wonders to your forward cast distance; but then I don’t know how you get the back cast to roll out nicely.
Izzat false albi season ??

Reply to  george e. smith
August 6, 2015 12:10 pm

false alibis
Aren’t they in the tuna family? I heard the best bait to catch ’em was fresh cut fish tales.
(I’m done. I’ll get me ‘at ‘n coat ‘n slip out the back.)

Reply to  george e. smith
August 7, 2015 6:29 am

Now yer ta’kin rite.

george e. smith
Reply to  george e. smith
August 7, 2015 12:28 pm

Ain’t no fish in Scootland !!

bit chilly
Reply to  george e. smith
August 8, 2015 2:32 am

there are plenty fish in scotland george, even in the sea. that other misinformed organisation, the international council for the exploration of the seas use even dodgier data than the climate scientists ,aided and abetted by the the michael mann of the fish world, callum roberts ,who famously proclaimed less than 100 mature cod in the north sea shortly before some of the best catches of cod in the 25 to 50 lb category made in the last 2 decades were landed in peterhead.
some fantastic free wild trout fishing ,along with accessible sea trout and salmon fishing,it really is a nice place to live if you are an angler,both salt water and fresh.
even the blue fin put a big appearance in every year off the hebrides ,and one group has secured permission to fish for them under the guise of study.
looking at the global sea surface temperature anomaly map, the winter sea fishing is going to be good this year though it does not appear to be doing much for any potential major el nino.

bit chilly
Reply to  george e. smith
August 8, 2015 2:34 am

oops, wrong link above ,here is the correct link

Frederick Michael
Reply to  H.R.
August 6, 2015 11:50 am

The south end of the SC coast has been a good option for a long time. The GA coast doesn’t get many hurricanes either. Connecticut, Rhode Island and Massachusetts are worse.

Bloke down the pub
August 6, 2015 9:27 am

In ten to twenty years time, if there’s a drop in global temps and a return of the hurricane, you can bet that the warmists will point to the uptick and say ‘see, we said that storms would become more frequent’.

Reply to  Bloke down the pub
August 6, 2015 12:19 pm

Must be nice, never having to admit that you’re wrong.

August 6, 2015 9:29 am

I’ll bet they’re making this prediction with great consternation.

jim south london
August 6, 2015 9:30 am

What about increase Seismic Earthquake season in the Arctic and Antarctic making cracks in the ice sheets.

Philip Peake
August 6, 2015 9:51 am

In a very few years our children will never know what getting killed by a hurricane is like!!!

August 6, 2015 10:12 am

Two thought:
1. Welcome aboard, NOAA. It’s been forecast that way for a long time.
2. Stock up on survival supplies NOW. NOAA and The Gore Effect proceed from the same place.

August 6, 2015 10:25 am

It’s hard to be wrong when you allow yourself such a wide number range of storms that would be considered ‘correct.’ Just a few yeads ago, the prediction range of named storms was 50% smaller

Two Labs
August 6, 2015 10:34 am

So, how accurate have their predictions been in the past? And in what direction do the tend more toward error?

Reply to  Two Labs
August 6, 2015 12:24 pm

Untill the last year or so, they were always predicting worse that normal, but then the actual results would be below normal.

Reply to  Jeff in Calgary
August 6, 2015 1:19 pm

Given their track record of predictions in the past few years, this one means we are in for some huge hurricanes!

Ted G
August 6, 2015 10:48 am

NOAA, NASA, a huge sucking sound of taxpayers dollars, to do what small efficient private companies can do for pennies on the dollar. What a gigantic waste of resources and money.They are a bunch of pencil pushers and data fudging manipulators.
That goes 10 times for the crooks over at the EPA and the White house mafia!!!!!
All Government Institutions should be made to shrink at 10% a year by law. Guess what – NOBODY WOULD MISS ANY OF THEM!!!

August 6, 2015 11:46 am

Well duh. No cyclones to speak of in the Atlantic and it is now the second week of august. With the game half over, I guess the fact that one side did not score may mean it will be a low scoring game. We still may have one. It may be even a cat 3. It might make landfall. A prediction of the sort the did is useless.

August 6, 2015 12:07 pm

We are only just past half way through the year and already the planet has experienced more than the average Cat 5 hurricanes. I’d say that is far more significant than focussing on one part of the planet.

Frederick Michael
Reply to  simon
August 6, 2015 12:17 pm

It’s an El Nino year. Major cyclones in the Pacific are a given.

Reply to  Frederick Michael
August 6, 2015 2:16 pm

It is an El Nino year, but put a race horse on steroids and it will run faster. Your El Nino tells only half the story. Temps in the pacific are at records, not just because of El Nino but because the oceans are warmer anyway. You can’t (with any integrity) simply say El Nino answers everything. El Nino + warming world, means more energy, which means more Cat 5 hurricanes. And that is what we are seeing. It’s not rocket science.

Reply to  simon
August 6, 2015 12:28 pm

If you want to cover more of the earth, we should be looking at ACE. While this years numbers havn’t been published (as far as I can tell), they are somewhat over average, but again, with El Nino, that is to be expected. Unrelated to CAGW.

Frederick Michael
Reply to  Jeff in Calgary
August 6, 2015 1:15 pm

Here’s a good reference. The graphs at the bottom show that the long term trend is flat.

Berényi Péter
Reply to  Jeff in Calgary
August 6, 2015 2:10 pm

this years numbers havn’t been published

Here you go.

August 6, 2015 12:49 pm

“Forecasters attribute the high likelihood of a below-normal season”
Can I get a low likelihood of a normal season, or is it too much to ask for them to speak like normal people? A “high likelihood” should be reserved for more, not less.

August 6, 2015 6:35 pm

But global warming was supposed to produce a greater number of more severe hurricanes, and according to the New York Times, 2014 was the warmest year ever. Mathematicians use the symbols ==> <== at the end of a proof by contradiction.

Louis Hunt
Reply to  luysii
August 6, 2015 8:56 pm

I was thinking the same thing. What happened to higher levels of CO2 causing more severe storms? Are they hiding in the deep oceans with the heat?

August 7, 2015 2:57 am

Forecasters attribute the high likelihood of a below-normal season to three primary factors:El Niño has strengthened as predicted…

Well if El Nino strengthening leads to a below normal hurricane season, and it was predicted that El Nino would strengthen. Then shouldn’t their initial hurricane season prediction have included the strengthened El Nino in their prediction?

Mickey Reno
August 7, 2015 10:58 am

This is like betting the over-under on a sporting contest 1/3 the way through the game. Scientists need to stop pretending to being diviners of the future, when the future is already here. I’d like it if they would start analyzing their PAST wrong predictions and publishing reasons they were wrong, and at least TRY to understand the depths of what they don’t know.

August 7, 2015 1:11 pm

Atlantic temperature drops.

August 8, 2015 5:48 am

Oh – It occurred to me I should post this in response to people wondering why we bother with August seasonal predictions.
We are not halfway through the season!

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