HOUSTON – Every year the seasonal hurricane forecasts start rolling in during April and this year they are all pointing to another busy season! An average season brings 14 storms of which seven become hurricanes and three become major. This coming season looks to be above that average with as many as 20 storms and five major hurricanes, depending on who you ask. Here are some of the recent forecasts:
Phil Klotzbach of Colorado State University also suggests a much higher than normal chance for a major hurricane strike along the Texas coast, 25% versus the average chance of 16%.
You can read the full report from Colorado State University’s Tropical Meteorology Project right here.
A link to the past
I’ve blogged about Dale Link before, the engineer who has been forecasting where these hurricanes will actually make landfall. He doesn’t focus on the number of storms which, after all, doesn’t really matter unless one gets you! Although it stands to reason that the more hurricanes there are, the more likely one will make landfall somewhere.
Dale’s forecast is for location, location, location. His methodology is pretty simple as he bases the current year’s forecast on what has happened in the past. We’ll discuss accuracy in a moment, but take a look at the VERY busy year he predicts for the United States:
Link claims an 82% accuracy rate noting “oversight corrections and very close calls.” A couple of interesting notes: in 2009 and 2015 Dale Link forecasted that the US would have no hurricane hits. In 2009, two minimal storms (TS Claudette and Ida) did strike the Central Gulf Coast causing minimal damage. In 2015, Tropical Storms Ana and Bill both made a U.S. landfall, but neither were hurricanes. Still, to predict zero landfalls in both years and have minimal action is impressive.
So how has he done for Southeast Texas since he began all this in 2000? I counted! In 21 years, he has missed seven times for our region and hit it 15 times. Of those seven times he missed, four of them he predicted our area would get hit, but we saw nothing (2004, 2012, 2014, 2016) which is a nice bonus. Three years we were hit, but he did not forecast it: 2007 we had Erin and Humberto, but I will say that Erin did weaken to a Tropical Depression before moving inland and Humberto just scraped High Island as it moved north. In 2015, Tropical Storm Bill moved across Wharton County with heavy rain. Then in 2017 was when Harvey called on us.
What is even more remarkable to me is that we honestly do not get tropical storms or hurricanes that often, so these are difficult predictions at best. I made a chart for you and you can see that since 2000, we’ve only had 10 years with storms that came ashore. For most of us, Tropical Storm Allison, Hurricane Ike and Tropical Storm Harvey were the only three that will be forever memorable.
As we always say, it only takes that one. If you’d like to have a full look at Link’s accuracy, forecasts and methodology you can find that right here. And for the National Hurricane Center archives I used to write this blog, just go here!