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Early 2013 Atlantic hurricane season forecasts suggest active year


The 2013 Atlantic tropical storm and hurricane season begins on the 1st of June and runs until the end of November. As ever, around this time of the year the forthcoming hurricane season features more heavily in insurance and reinsurance firms and catastrophe bond & ILS investors thoughts as the season approaches and the first forecasts of hurricane season activity are published. Early indications from forecasts released in the last few days suggest we could be in for an active storm season.

April sees the first forecasts emerge from some of the forecasters we choose to follow, selected for their longevity, trust within the reinsurance markets and relative accuracy over the years we’ve been following the Atlantic hurricane seasons development. This year the early forecasts are all suggesting an above average Atlantic tropical storm season helped by sea temperatures which are above normal levels already and only likely to rise as the year progresses.

Today we’ve launched our 2013 Atlantic Hurricane Season page, which features the usual tracking maps, storm by storm updates throughout the season, forecasts, satellite images and other useful links. Bookmark this page as it will be updated as each storm forms and the tracking map will automatically show every storms progress and development throughout the season.

Two forecasts are already available, the first from reinsurance broker Aon Benfield supported Tropical Storm Risk who we’ve followed for many years, while the second is from Weatherbell’s Joe Bastardi, a well-known name in the forecasting world. Another of our preferred forecasters, the Colorado State University Tropical research team, is due to publish its forecast for the season on the 10th April.

Tropical Storm Risk first. They forecast that the 2013 Atlantic hurricane season will see 15 named tropical storms, 8 of which they predict will become hurricanes and 3 of which will attain Category 3 status or higher becoming major hurricanes. This is about 30% above the average storm formation levels and TSR said that it puts the above average nature of the 2013 hurricane season down to two factors.

Firstly, the forecast models suggest lighter than normal trade winds across the Caribbean Sea and tropical north Atlantic which can help to influence the cyclonic vorticity, or spinning up, of storms which can help to increase intensification. The second factor is the long-range forecast for slightly warmer than normal sea surface temperatures in the Atlantic’s main hurricane development zones during the peak months of August and September, again a factor that could help to intensify storms and cause more to form.

Next Weatherbell, a private forecasting firm, who employ well-known forecaster Joe Bastardi. His prediction for the 2013 hurricane season was released recently and it calls for 16 named tropical storms, a very high 12 hurricanes and 5 hurricanes reaching major status of Category 3 or higher. That’s a very active season if it became reality!

Bastardi also puts a lot of emphasis on the warmer than average sea surface temperatures in the Atlantic ocean, saying that 2013 could be a very dangerous hurricane year for the Caribbean and the southeast U.S. However he also forecasts above average activity up the East coast and into the Gulf and further west as well. He believes that 2013 will see hurricane activity shift back to the traditional paths we know from seasons such as 2004 and 2005, with hurricanes tracking a little further south than in 2012.

Both forecasts suggest that the northern Gulf of Mexico to the east coast of Florida are the areas with the highest landfall risk for hurricanes in 2013. But both also stress that in an above average hurricane season landfalls are possible elsewhere as well and the Caribbean is certainly also at risk.

You can find details on the forecasts via our 2013 Atlantic Hurricane Season page which launches today. We’ll update you as more forecasts become available and as we move towards the beginning of the season in June.

Update: Weather Services International has just published its early season Atlantic hurricane forecast for 2013, predicting 16 named storms, 9 hurricanes and 5 major hurricanes.

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