The NOAA released their 2011 Hurricane Season Forecast. Here is what NOAA forecasts.
12-18 Named Storms
3-6 Major Hurricanes
An Accumulated Cyclone Energy (ACE) range of 105%-200% of the 1981-2010 median.
Here is a chart of hurricane season from 1981 to 2010.
3 Major Hurricanes
ACE of 104
2 Major Hurricanes
ACE of 89.5
To break this down, the NOAA average forecast are 15 named storms, 8 hurricanes, and 5 major hurricanes. The forecasted ACE range is from 94 to 179 with the average of 137. What does this mean? The upcoming hurricane season could be an active one. The NOAA is forecasting based on El Nino Southern Oscillation (ENSO) and Atlantic Multi-decadal Oscillation (AMO). The AMO is in a warm phase, while ENSO is in a La Nina phase, that is dying. It is forecasted to be Neutral. Forecasting El Nino is very difficult, as we saw in 2006. Spring ENSO is not a great predictor as shown in these charts I made.
The correlation value is low and p-value is above 0.05. A p-value above 0.05 is not significant. There is no correlation between spring ENSO and how active hurricane season is. It can go either way. Spring ENSO can predict August to October (ASO; peak season) ENSO.
Notice how strongly correlated spring ENSO is to peak season ENSO. However, predicting if El Nino or La Nina will happen is not that easy. I think ENSO by the peak months will likely be Neutral.
Now, let's look at spring ACE and hurricane season.
Spring AMO is strongly correlated with how active hurricane season is going to be. AMO lasts for decades, while ENSO lasts about a few months to a couple of years. In fact, spring AMO strongly correlates with peak season AMO.
The correlation value is high and p-value is below 0.05. A p-value below 0.05 is significant. Spring AMO is a good predictor for peak season AMO. As the Sun is higher in the sky during the summer, the Atlantic water warms up, so no surprise that the correlation between spring and peak season AMO is strong.
My prediction for this upcoming season is 15 named storms, 8 hurricanes, and 5 major hurricanes with a ACE of 150. I think the first named storm, Arlene could form in June. Here is the 2011 Hurricane Name List. It is similar to 2005 as they are used in 6 year intervals.
2011 Hurricane Names
Notice the name Dennis, Katrina, Rita, Stan, and Wilma are missing. They are retired because they were devastating hurricanes. I remember in Tropical Storm Arlene in 1993. It made landfall on South Texas and gave a large portion of Texas heavy rain and flooding. Also, here is the analog map for the 2011 hurricane season, which are 1955, 1989, 1996, 1999, 2000, 2001, and 2008. I have two articles that explain the analog seasons, May 2011 Forecast, More Spring 2011 Analogs, and April 2011 Forecast.
Regardless of how active or inactive the season is, we should always be prepared no matter what. It only takes one.