Another busy hurricane season?

According to one forecast, Texas is the most vulnerable

An etch-a-sketch of a hurricane season

This time last year, I blogged about Dale Link’s hurricane forecast which is a bit different from other forecasts. While all the others predict how many hurricanes there might be (or simply whether the season count will be below or above average), Dale forecasts WHERE storms will strike. Ultimately, that is the most important part of the forecast because it’s really not how many hurricanes form but whether one hits us.

Dale is an engineer, not a meteorologist. To be sure, Herbert Saffir who helped create the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale was also an engineer as were Tesla, Thomas Edison, Henry Ford and the Wright Brothers, just to name a few. My friends who are engineers are a lot smarter than I am! Dale’s methodology is explained on his website, but it is pretty much based on history -- where storms struck before, they eventually strike again. He uses his formula looking at recent storm paths and makes the call.

How did Dale do in 2020?

Given that yesterday the famous Groundhog saw his shadow in a snowstorm, you may be suspect of long-term forecasts. While Punxsutawney Phil has a 39% accuracy rate, Dale is much more impressive and last year came in at 81%. Below is a look at his “red zones,” places that hurricanes are likely to pass over. You’ll see the storms that, in fact, did.

Strike accuracy shown below

The Texas coast saw Hanna and Beta, while Louisiana suffered through Laura, Delta and Zeta. Sally struck Alabama/Florida and Hurricane Isaias passed through zone 4.

It’s easy to say, “Well, the whole Gulf had red zones!” This only speaks to the whole Gulf being vulnerable last year, which it was. Take a look below at Dale’s Hawaii and Mexico ‘red zone’ forecasts:

Mexico and Hawaii accuracy

Hawaii had to deal with Douglas while Mexico saw three storms all forecast accurately.

So what about 2021?

First, keep in mind that Dale does not predict how many storms anyone will see, only the likelihood of hurricanes passing through the red zones. It appears that 2021 looks very much like 2020:

Similar to 2020

Easy to see that all of the Texas Coast is in the red zone along with the Northern Gulf, much of Florida and the Bahamas. Here’s a close up:

Similar to 2020

Interestingly -- and this will be a real win if it verifies -- Lake Charles is left out of the red zone. After Laura, they can use a break. Dale’s been doing this for decades and his overall accuracy rate can be found here. If you’d like to take a full look at his website, start here.

If you know me, then you know I never fear going out on a limb and forecasting the best I can -- after all, it is a forecast and it is based on experience. I admire Dale for doing his best with his forecast. The bottom line is awareness. Be prepared. Just like last year’s hurricane season seems like it just ended, this year’s will start before you know it!


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About the Author:

KPRC 2's chief meteorologist with three decades of experience forecasting Houston's weather.