It is almost this time, hurricane season is approaching. Last year at this time, it was predicted to be active, which turned out to be the case. In fact more active with 19 named storms, 7 hurricanes, and 4 major hurricanes. By any definition, 2011 was one of the most active season besides 2005, 1933, 1887, 1995, and 2010.
AccuWeather, Dr. William M. Gray and Dr. Philip J. Klotzbach (Colorado State University), and Tropical Storm Risk have issued their April forecast. Keep in mind this is very preliminary at this time as things change.
Year Total Storms/Hurricanes/Major Hurricanes Accumulate Cyclone Energy (ACE) ACE/Storm
1957 8/3/2 84 10.5
1965 6/4/1 84 14
2001 15/9/4 106 7.1
2006 10/5/2 78 7.8
2009 9/3/2 51 5.7
Interestingly, I do not see 2006 as it also went from La Nina to El Nino. That season was predicted to be very active since it happened after 2005. As it turned out, 2006 was more of an average season. Frankly, I think 2006 should be included as an analog for 2012. 2001 is interesting because it went from La Nina to Neutral. It was also an active season and year that Tropical Storm Allison ravaged Texas with heavy rain. 1957 and 1965 were bad years, especially for Louisiana, from Audrey and Betsy. Audrey was the deadliest hurricane prior to Katrina in 2005. Betsy is the first billion dollar disaster as it flooded New Orleans from storm surge.
I think 1957, 1965, 2006, and 2009 would be analog year for 2012. As for 2001, it is good except that it was not an El Nino by the end of 2001. Also, include 2006 as mentioned earlier. Here is the analog map. The Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean are at most risk for landfall. Hurricane Audrey is listed as a Category 4 at landfall. However, it is more likely Audrey was Category 2 at landfall. Audrey was quite a large hurricane, so it produced higher storm surge. Also, Tropical Storm Allison made landfall in 2001 and that led to severe flooding.
9.6/4.8/2.2 80.6 9.0
10/5/2 81 9
9/4/2 84 7.8
3.4/2.5/1.1 19.7 3.3
What is my prediction for this season?
9 to 12 named storms, likely 11 named storms
3 to 6 hurricanes, likely 5 hurricanes
1 to 3 major hurricanes with 2 major hurricanes
ACE is 75 to 100 with ACE likely of 75 to 90.
The reason is the Atlantic water is cooler than last year due to a positive North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO) and Arctic Oscillation (AO) we have had. The reason is trade winds from them stir up the water, which prevents them from warming up. On the other hand, if NAO and AO were negative, there would be less wind to stir up the ocean, so it becomes warmer.
There is also a possibility that El Nino could develop by the summer. Many computer forecast models are forecasting El Nino. El Nino causes sea level pressure to rise, more sinking air, and westerly wind shear. All those suppress Atlantic hurricane activities. However, active seasons have occurred in El Nino, like 1969 and 2004 and they were devastating seasons. On the other hand, the Pacific is more active during an El Nino. However, I could not rule out that seeing a Neutral phase of the El Nino Southern Oscillation. Predicting El Nino, La Nina, or Neutral is really difficult and anything can change. Nature does not care for computer models. I am still confident we could see El Nino this year.
It is not often we see years go from La Nina to El Nino. The last time it happened was in 2009 and the winters were quite cold.
Let’s see April 2011 prediction I made.
What is my prediction for this season?
13 to 16 named storms, likely 15 named storms
6 to 9 hurricanes, likely 8 hurricanes
3 to 5 major hurricanes with 4 major hurricanes
ACE is 155 to 195 with ACE likely of 160 to 175.
2011 Actual Number
19 Named Storms
4 Major Hurricanes
I was wrong on the number of tropical storms, while I was close with hurricanes, and got it right on with major hurricanes. However, with ACE I was off. So, my prediction was not off. Always room for improvement.
What does this mean? Just because there is less storms forming does not mean to let your guard down. It only takes one. Just think of 1957, 1965, and 1992; Audrey, Betsy, and Andrew. Quiet seasons that produced nasty hurricanes. Also, some seasons did not have many storms form and were very active due to many high ACE, like 1961, 1998, and 1999. They were also devastating seasons as well.
I predict 2012 could start in June and go quiet until August. It is probable we could see a major hurricane make landfall in 2012. Only time will tell. I will issue a June forecast when the season starts on June 1, 2012, which is not too far.