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2016 Hurricane Predictions Are Here


Two meteorologists at Colorado State University are out with their 33rd annual hurricane and tropical storm prediction.

Their verdict: a near-average season that begins June 1.

Look for a dozen named storms during the 2016 Atlantic hurricane season, five of which will develop into hurricanes, according to Philip Klotzbach and William Gray. Speaking at a conference in January, Klotzbach said one question is whether we’re moving out of the latest “active era.”

“I think 2016 is a very good test year, because we won’t have El Nino knocking down storm activity,” said Klotzbach. “We could potentially have a La Nina, we could have an active season based on that information.”

A typical year, they say, is 12 named and seven hurricanes. Of the five predicted this year, the team says two should be Category-3 or stronger, packing sustained winds of more than 110 miles an hour.

But Klotzbach adds that it’s not that you can’t have active seasons during an inactive period – or vice-versa. It’s just that the odds of them drop considerably.

The team at CSU has come under fire from some who question the accuracy of their forecasts. Klotzbach told the conference that they stand behind their numbers.

“If you look at our forecast and you add up the number of storms and you look at the number of hurricanes that have been observed since 1984, it’s plus-or-minus ‘1’ for the entire period,” said Klotzbach.

Just who uses these predictions? Insurance firms, emergency managers and the media, for starters. Colorado State is quick to add that their forecasts are, at best, an estimate of upcoming activity – and not written in stone.

“NOAA’s seasonal hurricane outlook is for the overall strength of the hurricane season; it’s not a hurricane landfall forecast,” said Gerry Bell, Chief Meteorologist at the National Hurricane Center – which is part of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

“And the reason is quite simple,” Bell said. “Where a storm strikes, how strong it is when it strikes – all of that depends on the weather patterns in place at the time the hurricane or tropical storm is approaching.”

Bell says there are two factors that will go into NOAA’s 2016 projection due out May 27. Number one is decades-long climate patterns – 25-40 years at a time. The other is the water temperature in the Atlantic Ocean.

AccuWeather released its hurricane forecast last week, calling for eight hurricanes out of 14 named storms. The first named storm of the Atlantic hurricane season was Alex in January. Upcoming names include Bonnie, Colin, Danielle and Earl.