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Another hurricane forecast calls for a busy season

Gulf Hurricane
Gulf Hurricane

No one wants to think about hurricanes in the middle of this pandemic, but this is the time of year that the forecasts come out, and the ones we’ve seen so far have indicated a busy season. I’m posting The Weather Company’s forecast released yesterday and will follow with some realism and optimism.

First, here’s the guidance: the lack of El Niño, warmer-than-normal ocean water forecast for August-October, past hurricane seasons of similar atmospheric makeup and computer modeling. All those have The Weather Company forecasting an above-average season:

The Weather Company 2020 Forecast
The Weather Company 2020 Forecast

By numbers alone, they are forecasting more hurricanes than last year (9 vs 7) and more than Dr. Phil Klotzbach of Colorado State (9 vs 8). Their full press release is right here.

Included in the article you’ll find some optimism in that numbers don’t mean anything to what might actually happen to any particular state or city. In 2005, 28 storms formed and none hit Texas (yes, Rita made a mess of traffic, but officially went inland in Louisiana). On the other hand, in 1983 there were only 4 storms and we had Category 3 Hurricane Alicia! So with any season, there is a certain amount of sheer luck. In addition, dry air (all that Saharan Dust) can be a big player along with windy conditions that can develop, both of which can inhibit tropical development, and those conditions simply have to be monitored as they are not easily forecast. The busy season prediction could always be a bust.

So if these hurricane forecasts stress you out, don’t let it. Dr. Bill Gray (1929-2016), who started the whole hurricane forecasting phenomenon back in 1984, told me once at a conference that the primary reason he made hurricane forecasts each year is that people were curious. It’s a question they had and he tried his best to give an answer, that’s all. Insurance groups and Emergency Management have a vested interest in the answers, but they pretty much plan for the worst every year regardless!

So think of these various forecasts as just that -- best guesses to the question of how many hurricanes might develop this year. No one knows for sure how many will form and certainly, no one can know exactly where and when they’ll hit, if at all.

Stay safe and healthy!

Frank

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