Colorado State University team predicts below-average hurricane season
FORT COLLINS, Colo. - The Colorado State University forecast team today predicted a below-average 2012 Atlantic basin hurricane season due to a cooling of the tropical Atlantic and the potential development of El Nino conditions.
The CSU team calls for 10 named storms during the hurricane season, which falls between June 1 and Nov. 30. Four of those are expected to become hurricanes and two of those major hurricanes.
CSU is in its 29th year of issuing Atlantic basin seasonal hurricane forecasts.
Despite the prediction for a less active season based on data analysis of about 30 years, the scientists warned that it only takes one hurricane to make it an active season for U.S. coastal residents.
The hurricane forecast team made this early April forecast based on a new forecast scheme that relies on 29 years of historical data. The forecasts are based on the premise that global oceanic and atmospheric conditions - such as El Nino, Atlantic basin sea surface temperatures, sea level pressures, etc. - that preceded active or inactive hurricane seasons in the past provide meaningful information about similar conditions that will likely occur in the current year.
The team’s annual predictions are intended to provide a best estimate of activity to be experienced during the upcoming season, not an exact measure.
Four years since 1949 exhibited February-March characteristics most similar to the oceanic and atmospheric features observed during February-March 2012: 1957, 1965, 2001 and 2009. Three of these four years had below-average Atlantic basin hurricane activity.
The team predicts that tropical cyclone activity in 2012 will be about 75 percent of the average season.
By comparison, 2011 witnessed tropical cyclone activity that was 145 percent of the average season.
The hurricane forecast team's probabilities for a major hurricane making landfall on U.S. soil in 2012 are:
- A 42 percent chance that at least one major hurricane will make landfall on the U.S. coastline (the long-term average probability is 52 percent).
- A 24 percent chance that a major hurricane will make landfall on the U.S. East Coast, including the Florida Peninsula (the long-term average is 31 percent).
- A 24 percent chance that a major hurricane will make landfall on the Gulf Coast from the Florida Panhandle west to Brownsville (the long-term average is 30 percent).
The team also predicts a 34 percent chance of a major hurricane tracking into the Caribbean (the long-term average is 42 percent).
The team will issue forecast updates on June 1 and Aug. 3.