Seasonal Hurricane Forecasting
Right around this time of year a lot of folks are interested in the hurricane season. Will it be a busy one? Will there be a lot of storms? Will a storm hit me?
There are several organizations that issue Seasonal Hurricane Forecasts. These forecasts estimate how many tropical storms, hurricanes, and major hurricanes will occur this season over the entire Atlantic Basin – which is a huge area. These forecasts have some skill at what they do. Much of the time they are better at estimating how many storms will form as opposed to simply taking a 50-year average. But at this point, these seasonal forecasts are mainly an interesting science study. Simply put, they are are not very useful. That’s because they don’t give any meaningful information like 1) where a storm will hit, 2) when a storm will hit, or 3) how strong it will be when it gets there. Furthermore, it is my experience that when these forecasts are for a below average season, folks are lulled into a sense of complacency. Remember it only takes one storm to wreak havoc – whether it’s a quiet season or not.
I should point out that I am a strong supporter of weather research. It’s critical and leads to significant improvements in forecasts. But until these seasonal forecasts can give us useful and actionable information, it doesn’t make much sense for us to pay any attention to them.