Hurricane Forecasting Team Drops Number Of Storms From December Forecast

Next year's hurricane season is expected to once again, produce an above average number of storms. But the team at Colorado State University that puts together one of the best-known hurricane forecasts is leaving something out of its December predictions.

Since 1992, CSU's hurricane forecasting team has predicted the number of storms for the following year in early December -- just days after the previous season ended. This year, things are different.  Phillip Klotzbach is the lead author of the latest forecast.  He says the December outlook will no longer predict a specific number of storms six to 10 months down the road, because it's simply too far in the future.

"So we've decided to basically just discuss, qualitatively, what the factors are that we think are likely to impact the season. And provide some scenarios as opposed to forecasting actual numbers."

Klotzbach says the team looked at four different scenarios.  The one that's most likely to happen, given the information available today, is another above-average season — perhaps not quite as active as the last few years.

"But, again, there's still quite a bit of uncertainty this far out — especially with El Nino, which is a critical factor dictating the season.  And we hope by early April, we hope to know whether we're going to have an El Nino or not."

Klotzbach says if the waters in the tropical Pacific warm enough to produce El Nino conditions, then that could mean fewer storms in the Atlantic.  While Colorado State is not predicting a number of storms in its December forecast, the numbers will return for the outlooks in April, June, and August.

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