The 2011 Hurricane Forecast Is Out

This forecast gets a lot of attention (including from me). I’m just not sure how useful it is

The seasonal hurricane forecast came out from the Weather Service today. No surprises. The call is for another busy year.

This forecast gets a lot of attention (including from me). I’m just not sure how useful it is. More on that in a moment.

Across the entire Atlantic Basin for the six-month season, which begins June 1, NOAA is predicting the following ranges this year:

  1. 12 to 18 named storms (winds of 39 mph or higher), of which:
  2. 6 to 10 could become hurricanes (winds of 74 mph or higher), including:
  3. 3 to 6 major hurricanes (Category 3, 4 or 5; winds of 111 mph or higher)

Each of these ranges has a 70 percent likelihood, and indicate that activity will exceed the seasonal average of 11 named storms, six hurricanes and two major hurricanes. – NWS press release

Let’s say for a second this forecast is perfect (though it never is). What would/could we do differently? It’s a little late to move New Orleans, Miami or New Haven even if this forecast was geographically specific (and it isn’t).

Besides, a busy season doesn’t necessarily mean a deadly season. Look back at last year.

“The United States was fortunate last year. Winds steered most of the season’s tropical storms and all hurricanes away from our coastlines,” said Jane Lubchenco, Ph.D., under secretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere and NOAA administrator. “However we can’t count on luck to get us through this season. We need to be prepared, especially with this above-normal outlook.” – NWS press release

This incongruity works better when reversed. 1992 was a light hurricane season. The “A” storm didn’t come until late August (my earlier citation of September was incorrect). It was Hurricane Andrew!

You would be hard pressed to convince the people of South Florida ’92 wasn’t a bad year.

Hurricanes, like real estate, are best analyzed by checking location, location, location.

4 thoughts on “The 2011 Hurricane Forecast Is Out”

  1. I totally agree. At least the National Hurricane Center has confidence intervals instead of numbers, unlike that crackpot Dr. Gray. His forecasts are useless for anything beyond making people trust meteorologists less.

  2. Has anyone measured the accuracy of the NOAA and the Gray forecasts? My perception is that they have been wildly inaccurate.

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