Wednesday May 23, 2007

Here come the hurricanes, 2007

2007 Atlantic Hurricane Outlook - 3 to 5 major hurricanes, 75% chance of above-normal season So you thought the rate at which housing prices are falling was slowing down? Well, here’s just what the doctor ordered to keep it moving along: a nice and busy hurricane season. The NOOA’s official hurricane predictions are out, and here’s the scoop: 75% chance of an above-average hurricane season, 13 to 17 named storms and 7 to 10 hurricanes, 3 to 5 of which will be major.

I just heard Al Roker say there’s a 100% chance of landfall of at least one hurricane, which is of course stupid. He was misquoting from the full report, which actually says:

While NOAA does not make an official seasonal hurricane landfall forecast, the historical probability for multiple hurricane strikes in the United States increases sharply for hyperactive seasons. For the U.S., all hyperactive seasons since 1950 have had at least one hurricane strike, 92% have had at least 2 hurricane strikes, and 58% have had at least 3 hurricane strikes. For the eastern seaboard of the United States, 92% of hyperactive seasons have had at least one hurricane strike, and 42% have had at least two hurricane strikes. For the Gulf Coast region of the United States, 83% of hyperactive seasons have had at least one hurricane strike, and 58% have had at least two hurricane strikes.

(Click the links if yr be enjoying bar graphs of doomz and destruction! (Note to NOOA: Blind people care about hurricanes too. Please to be making your graphs accessible in the futur.)) I’ll say this again for the skeptics: we’re in the middle of a 10-year run of strong hurricane seasons. Last year El Niño came along and unexpectedly bailed us out. No such luck this year. In fact, there is a chance of La Niña forming, and La Niña actually makes hurricane seasons worse (not joking), so the above predictions could turn out to be low. Good times.

Here’s my favorite bit: NOOA calculates something called the Accumulated Cyclone Energy (ACE) index: “The ACE index is a wind energy index, defined as the sum of the squares of the maximum sustained surface wind speed (knots) measured every six hours for all named systems while they are at least tropical storm strength.” Got that? Well, for 2007, the ACE index is predicted at 125% to 210% of the median. In other words, brace yourselves kids.

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  1. Rick    Wed May 23, 09:19 AM #  

    I’ve really stopped listening to what these people say. In the year of Hurricane Andrew, we only had 6 named storms. In 2006, they were sounding the same alarm bells about this time and nothing happened.

    All it takes is one, folks. Be prepared no matter what these “scientists” say.


  2. Guv    Wed May 23, 09:42 AM #  

    Oh goodie. This is the excuse I need to go to Sam’s Club and buy that hand-crank radio/flashlight/phone charger that I’ve always wanted, but never ponied up enough cash to NPR to get for “free”!

    And Vienna Sausages.

  3. Gabriel J. Lopez-Bernal    Wed May 23, 11:04 AM #  

    I’d have to agree with Rick. This really isn’t a good Science, they generally have no clue what is going to happen until the storms have actually passed. Why Bother to make these asinine predictions to begin with?

  4. latinbombshell    Wed May 23, 01:19 PM #  

    I swear, they’ve been saying the same thing EVERY.SINGLE.YEAR

    It’s true, it only takes one.

  5. alesh    Wed May 23, 01:33 PM #  

    Ok… predicting the weather is an uncertain science, predicting a whole season obviously all the more so.

    Having said that, I think the NHC deserves some credit — with some exceptions (eg last year) they do as well as they could, and when the hurricane is approaching they’re downright indispensable. Also, they’re underfunded — considering the difference in damage between a decent warning and a short warning, it would be wise to give them the equipment upgrades they’ve asked for.

  6. Guv    Thu May 24, 09:44 AM #  

    The NOAA guys/gals do work hard. When the season gets rolling they live at the NHC, and they take their jobs very seriously. No summer vacation!

    I think they do a good job and the best they can under the circumstances; don’t forget we are talking about predicting the future.

  7. Jen    Thu May 31, 10:37 PM #  

    My Father is a research scientist for NOAA, and I can assure you that it is difficult for the average Joe (myself included) to understand just how far they have come along in scientific modeling and understanding our vastly complicated weather systems. He started his career studying El Nino as a localized phenomenon off the coast of Ecuador/Peru, and years of research with local/intl colleagues have lead them all to understand it as the worldwide phenomenon it is -one that can have massive impacts on weather, agriculture, fisheries, economics, even politics. When making these hurricane predictions, researchers also have to take into account El Nino, La Nina, multidecadal anomalies in the Atlantic, and now the more difficult to quantify element of global warming-among otehr things I do not know or understand. Science is an honorable profession, but they are not seers either. I thank them for their contributions even when they are off-base on the predictions. Regardless, always be prepared!