Dale C. S. Destin |
After a hat-trick of quiet Atlantic hurricane seasons, the latest round of forecasts is pointing to the most active season since 2012. However, notwithstanding the projected increase in activity over recent years, the forecast is for the 2016 hurricane season to be near normal.
Our ensemble (mean) forecast calls for 14 named storms with 7 becoming hurricanes and 4 reaching major hurricane status. This represents an increase over the previous forecast for the season of one named storm and one hurricane.
In the tropical cyclone community, the accumulated cyclone energy (ACE) is the indicator used to determine 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 the season, aside from just the number of storms.
This year, our ensemble forecast calls for an ACE index of 109, which is near normal. If this forecast pans out, the 2016 season would be around 200%, 63% and 73% more active than 2013, 2014 and 2015 respectively.
The ensemble (mean) forecast is based on predictions from 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), UK Met Office, the Hurricane Genesis & Outlook (HUGO) Project of Coastal Carolina University and the Institute for Meteorology (INSMET) of Cuba.
It must be noted though that the skill in forecasting the hurricane season (June to November) in May/June is moderate. However, it is the best available on earth, and it continues to improve.
Apart from the inherent limits to our skill in forecasting the season, this year, there is the huge uncertainty of the eventual strength of La Nina (the coolness of the tropical Pacific Ocean). A strong La Nina could result in a more active season than is forecast, with the converse being true.
Probability of Antigua and Barbuda being hit
According to Klotzbach, the likely best similar years to this hurricane season are 1973, 1978, 1983, 1992 and 2003. Of these years, we were only hit by Tropical Storm Christine of 1973. Thus, based ONLY on similar years, the probability of Antigua being hit this year by one or more named storms is around 18%, while the probability of one or more hurricanes is 0%.
In general, the probability of Antigua being hit by one or more named storms annually appears to vary according to the phase of the Atlantic. During the quiet phase of 1962 to 1994, the probability of one or more named storms was around 26%, while the probability of one or more hurricanes was around 14%. Meanwhile, for the active phase of 1995 to present, which may have come to an end, the probability of one or more named storms increased to around 55%, while the probability of one or more hurricanes is around 35%.
Overall, based on the climatological period of 1981-2010, the probability of being hit by one or more named storms is around 49% (every 2 years on average), while the probability of one or more hurricanes is around 31% (every 3 years on average). Barbuda has similar numbers.
Become hurricane strong
Notwithstanding the forecast, it only takes one hurricane to change your life and community, so the same comprehensive preparations are required every year. Become hurricane strong by taking actions today to become hurricane resilient. This includes:
- 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!
We will publish an undated ensemble forecast by early August, just before the traditional peak of the hurricane season. This forecast is generally the most skilful; it will have much reduced uncertainty.
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