CFAN forecasts 8 hurricanes, 2 U.S. landfalls, 1 Florida landfall in 2019

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Having proved correct in forecasting that El Niño conditions would weaken and transition to ENSO neutral by peak hurricane season this year, Climate Forecast Applications Network (CFAN) has now raised its forecast for the 2019 Atlantic hurricane season, now expecting 8 hurricanes to form.

hurricane-michael-2018Right back in April, Climate Forecast Applications Network (CFAN) was predicting a more active Atlantic hurricane season for 2019 than the majority of other forecast teams.

In April the company called for 7 Atlantic hurricanes to form during the 2019 season, saying that 2 could make landfall in the United States.

At the same time, CFAN forecasted that Accumulated Cyclone Energy (ACE) for the Atlantic hurricane season in 2019 would be around 125.

The forecaster also said in April that it expected El Nino conditions would weaken before the peak of hurricane season onset, something that now appears prescient given most others were not being that bullish on the transition back to ENSO neutral, which has now proven to be accurate as El Nino conditions have disappeared.

These figures were higher than any other forecaster, as CFAN’s bullish outlook pegged the 2019 hurricane season as above average, compared to most forecasters predictions for an average to slightly below 2019 year in the Atlantic.

But a new update from CFAN has raised the forecast even higher, with the firm now calling for 8 hurricanes to form, (+/- 3), with 2 U.S. landfalls and 1 Florida landfall, while the season is predicted to end up with Accumulated Cyclone Energy (ACE) of 150 (+/- 40).

The confidence bands are quite high there, but still this is a forecast for above average hurricane activity in the Atlantic in 2019, so something to take not of for the insurance, reinsurance and insurance-linked securities (ILS) sectors.

The company explained, “Most seasonal forecasts issued in August for the 2019 Atlantic hurricane season have been for an average or slightly above average season, increasing relative to their forecasts issued in spring. Climate Forecast Applications Network (CFAN) has consistently predicted an active 2019 Atlantic hurricane season, since our first forecast issued in November 2018.

“CFAN’s August hurricane forecast update continues to predict an active hurricane season for 2019. These estimates suggest moderately above-average ACE, hurricane totals and landfall activity compared to averages during the recent active regime in place since 1995, but not as active as the 2017 season.”

The landfall forecasts are closer to the average of recent seasons CFAN notes, as the last three years has shown more frequent landfalls in the U.S. and Florida than relative to the previous decade, CFAN said.

CFAN cites higher sea surface temperatures (SST’s) in the Atlantic, Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico, while cooler Pacific waters and SST anomalies in general point towards a dipole pattern that favours above-normal Atlantic basin tropical storm activity.

On landfall potential specifically, CFAN notes that from 2016-18 when Florida landfalls have been more active there has been a period of unusually warm SSTs in the Atlantic off Florida and the eastern U.S., as well as in the subtropical NE Pacific for May-June-July. Similar anomalies are present again in 2019, CFAN says, meaning that it believes regional climate conditions favouring enhanced U.S. and Florida landfalls are likely to remain effective in 2019.

Meanwhile, forecaster Accuweather has stuck with its prediction for the hurricane season, but recently warned this year could be “back end loaded” with storms and that between 2 and 4 U.S. landfalls should be expected.

“This year, we may have an opposite effect during the autumn with the jet stream well north, perhaps into part of November,” forecaster Dan Kottlowski said.

“With water temperatures currently well above average in many areas and that anomaly likely to continue well into the autumn, it could mean more named systems roaming around out there right up to the end of hurricane season.”

Updating CFAN’s numbers in the list of forecasters we track has not changed our Artemis average forecast for the 2019 Atlantic hurricane season of 13 named storms, 7 hurricanes and 3 major hurricanes, but in terms of ACE, the average for the 2019 Atlantic hurricane season across the forecasters is now seen as 110, having been lifted by CFAN’s forecast figures.

As ever, insurance, reinsurance, catastrophe bond and insurance-linked securities (ILS) interests will want to watch the season closely.

A number of meteorological groups are highlighting the period from the last week of August up to the third week of September as particularly key this year for development, while also highlighting that late season storms are possible in 2019, meaning this could be a long season for some.

Having been relatively benign so far, as far as insurance and reinsurance impacts are concerned, it will only take one landfalling hurricane to dent industry profits if it came ashore in a highly urbanised region of the United States.

Keep track of the season as it develops over on our dedicated 2019 Atlantic Hurricane Season page.

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