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The Editor Speaks: Forecasters predictions for hurricane seasons

Last year the forecasters predictions for 2017 hurricane season were wrong. The below normal forecast turned out to be well over the normal.

This year the crystal ball is showing them near- or above-normal hurricanes.

Forecasters predict a 35 percent chance of an above-normal season, a 40 percent chance of a near-normal season, and a 25 percent chance of a below-normal season for the upcoming hurricane season, which extends from June 1 to November 30.

“With the advances made in hardware and computing over the course of the last year, the ability of NOAA scientists to both predict the path of storms and warn Americans who may find themselves in harm’s way is unprecedented,” said Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross. “The devastating hurricane season of 2017 demonstrated the necessity for prompt and accurate hurricane forecasts.”

NOAA’s forecasters predict a 70-percent likelihood of 10 to 16 named storms (winds of 39 mph or higher), of which 5 to 9 could become hurricanes (winds of 74 mph or higher), including 1 to 4 major hurricanes (category 3, 4 or 5; with winds of 111 mph or higher). An average hurricane season produces 12 named storms, of which 6 become hurricanes, including 3 major hurricanes.

NOAA are heralding the successful launch of the GOES-17 satellite in March. This satellite, along with the GOES-16 satellite – now GOES-East – contribute to a comprehensive picture of weather throughout the Western Hemisphere, allowing forecasters to observe storms as they develop.

None of these satellites nor their “suite of sophisticated technologies – from next-generation models and satellite data to new and improved forecast and graphical products” can produce a crystal ball that is anymore accurate than the ones the gypsies use to tell our fortune.

We should, therefore, always be prepared that in any hurricane season we can take a potential devastating hit or even hits. Some of our eastern Caribbean islands got hit twice last year.

When Hurricane Ivan hit us it was in a low season for hurricanes.

How accurate are all these predictions?

The BoatUS Seaworthy Program, which helps BoatUS members avoid injuries and boat damage by analyzing insurance claims data and publishing its findings in BoatUS Magazine, compared over two decades of storm predictions from one of the better-known hurricane-season forecasts from Colorado State University’s Philip Klotzbach and the late Bill Gray.

After comparing annual predictions to actual weather, Seaworthy discovered that out of 22 years of hurricane season activity forecasts, only one was 100 percent accurate. In some years, there were up to eight more storms than predicted.

If you go to
you will find a “Predicted v. actual hurricanes by year” table.

Therefore, never rely on predictions. Always be prepared. Remember the slogan: “Hope for the best, but prepare for the worst.”


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