This preseason forecast calls for 11 named storms, 6 hurricanes and 2 major hurricanes (Category 3 or higher on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale). These forecast numbers are below the long-term average from 1950-2011 (12 named storms, 7 hurricanes, 3 major hurricanes) and well below the averages for the current active era from 1995-2011 (15 named storms, 8 hurricanes, 4 major hurricanes).
“After very active tropical seasons in 2010 and 2011, we expect fewer storms to develop this hurricane season,” said Weather Services International (WSI), a part of The Weather Channel Companies, Chief Meteorologist Dr. Todd Crawford. “The combination of much cooler North Atlantic ocean temperatures and a trend towards El Nino conditions suggest a notable reduction in activity. There is still uncertainty regarding the development of El Nino, which will impact future forecast updates. If the chances of El Nino development increase, our forecast numbers will likely go down even further in future updates.”
“Through scientists at WSI, The Weather Channel has been producing hurricane seasonal forecasts for the Atlantic Ocean since 2006,” says Dr. Peter Neilly, Vice President, Global Forecasting Services. “The forecasts are based on state-of-the-science techniques and inputs such as patterns of ocean temperatures in both the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. The Weather Channel forecasts have proven quite accurate and generally predict the number of storms within two each year. However, it is important to note that our forecasts are for the total number of storms that may occur anywhere within the Atlantic Ocean, and do not attempt to predict the number of storms that will make landfall in the U.S.”
As Senior Meteorologist Stu Ostro (On Facebook | On Twitter) points out, “Some businesses such as those who are clients of Weather Services International (WSI) find value in hurricane season forecasts. The total number of storms is of interest to me because it matters for how busy I am during the season; for example, there wasn’t a U.S. hurricane landfall in either 2009 or 2010, but the former had 9 storms and the latter 19.
“Nevertheless, as I am on record many times as saying, and as is The Weather Channel’s philosophy, these forecasts absolutely cannot accurately predict critical details such as where or how many landfalls will occur and people in hurricane-prone areas should be equally prepared every year regardless of seasonal outlooks.”