Dale C. S. Destin |
The latest round of forecasts has reaffirmed that the 2016 Atlantic hurricane season is likely to be the most active since 2012. However, notwithstanding the predicted increase in activity over recent years, the forecast continues to call for a near normal 2016 hurricane season.
Our ensemble (mean) forecast calls for 15 named storms with 7 becoming hurricanes and 3 reaching major hurricane status. This represents a slight difference from the previous forecast, which called for one less named storm but one more major hurricane.
In meteorological community, the accumulated cyclone energy (ACE) index is deemed the best “yard-stick” to measure the activity of a hurricane season. The ACE index is a measurement of the strength and duration of a named storm. Summing together the ACE of each named storm, provides a more comprehensive picture of the activity of a season, aside from just the number of storms.
This year, our ensemble forecast calls for an ACE index of 102. This is seven less than the previous forecast ACE but still well within the near normal range. If this forecast pans out, the 2016 season would be around 183%, 52% and 62% more active than 2013, 2014 and 2015 respectively.
The ensemble (mean) forecast is based on predictions from seven organizations: Klotzbach of Colorado State University, the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Saunders and Lea of Tropical Storm Risk.com (TSR), the Integrated Forecast System (IFS) of the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF), Weather Channel, the Institute for Meteorology (INSMET) of Cuba and Truchelut of WeatherTiger.
The season so far
So far, there have been five named storms: Hurricanes Alex and Earl and Tropical Storms Bonnie, Collin and Danielle. None impacted Antigua and Barbuda, but the disturbance that became Earl brought us some welcome showers. The season officially began June 1 and runs until November 30. However, no one told that to Alex and Bonnie – the former developed in January and the latter in May. With five named storms gone, around 10 more are likely.
The skill in forecasting the hurricane season in August is quite high – up to 50% better than guessing or using the average activity of a season as the forecast, which would be correct around 33% of the time. This translates to the August forecast being right around 83% of the time.
Notwithstanding the high skill, there is and always will be some level of uncertainty. It is still uncertain as to if and when will La Nina (cooler than usual Pacific Ocean) develop. Also, there are uncertainties regarding it strength, if it does develop. A strong La Nina during August to November could result in an active/above normal season as opposed to a near normal one. NOAA has put the probability of an active season at 35% and the probability of a near normal one at 50%.
Probability of Antigua and Barbuda being hit
According to Klotzbach, the likely best similar years to this hurricane season are 1958, 1959, 1966, 1978, 1992 and 1998. Of these years, six named storms passed within 121 miles of Antigua; of them, there were three hurricanes and one tropical storm that hit the island. Of them, Major Hurricane Georges of 1998 is the most notable. Thus, based ONLY on similar years, probabilistically Antigua has a
- 63% chance of being affected by one or more named storms (passing within 121 miles), usually it’s 62%;
- 49% chance of being hit by one or more named storms (passing within 17 to 75 miles), usually it’s 49% and
- 39% chance of being hit by one or more hurricanes (passing within 17 miles), usually its 31%.
Barbuda’s numbers, based on five named storms passing within 75 miles:
- 57% chance of being affected by one or more named storms (normally it’s 52%);
- 57% chance of being hit by one or more named storms (normally it’s 32%) and
- 39% chance of being hit by one or more hurricanes (normally it’s 23%).
The hit forecast probabilities for Barbuda are significantly higher than usual. The numbers suggest that Barbuda is more likely than not to be hit by a named storm. The other forecast probabilities are similar to what is usual. However, it must be noted that our usual numbers are generally higher than most places.
Become hurricane strong
Notwithstanding the forecast, active or inactive season, it only takes one hurricane to turn your life upside-down, so the same comprehensive preparations are required to mitigate or reduce the impacts a tropical cyclone. Take actions today and become hurricane strong/resilient. Actions include:
- Determining your risk from tropical cyclones;
- Developing an evacuation plan;
- Securing an insurance check-up;
- Assembling disaster supplies;
- Strengthening your home;
- Identifying trusted sources of information for a hurricane event and
- Having your written hurricane plan.
Recall – an ounce of prevention is better than pound of cure!
A summary of the hurricane season will be available by December. Follow us via our social media platform and stay updated on the current hurricane season. We are available on twitter, facebook, wordpress, instagram, tumblr, and google+. Follow us also for all things weather and climate.