U.S. hurricane season forecast to be below average in 2012

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Right on schedule Colorado State University hurricane forecasters Klotzbach & Gray have published their first proper forecast for the 2012 Atlantic hurricane season. They released a pre-forecast discussion a few weeks ago in which they predicted the forecast would be for a below average season, now they have released their full forecast along with numbers of storms predicted.

The mix of a cooler tropical Atlantic and the potential for El Niño conditions to develop as the season progresses lead Klotzbach & Gray to forecast lower than average tropical storm formation activity in 2012. They say:

The tropical Atlantic has anomalously cooled over the past several months, and it appears that the chances of an El Niño event this summer and fall are relatively high. We anticipate a below-average probability for major hurricanes making landfall along the United States coastline and in the Caribbean.

They also remind coastal residents that a below average hurricane season does not mean a major hurricane landfall won’t happen, similarly for the re/insurance industry it only takes a single hurricane making a direct hit on a major coastal U.S. city for a large loss event to happen.

For the 2012 Atlantic hurricane season they predict 10 named tropical storms (below the 1981-2010 average of 12), 4 of those storms are forecast to become hurricanes (again below the average of 6.5) and 2 major hurricanes are forecast for the season which is the same as the median.

Klotzbach & Gray say that there is a 42% chance of a major hurricane (category 3 to 5) making landfall somewhere on the U.S. coastline, the average for the last century is 52%. They give a 24% chance of the east coast including Florida being hit, again below the average of 31%. And for the Florida panhandle itself again they say there is a 24% chance of a landfalling major hurricane, which is below the average of 30%. For the Caribbean their forecast suggests a 34% chance of a major hurricane tracking into the Caribbean below the average of 42%.

The forecast will be updated on the 1st June, the official start of the Atlantic hurricane season, and we’ll publish an update at that time. We’ll also bring you some of the other forecasters thoughts when they publish them.

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