NOAA expects “active to extremely active” Atlantic hurricane season

95% of above normal seasons have 2 Gulf hurricanes, 50% have at least one in June-July

Across the entire Atlantic Basin for the six-month season, which begins June 1, NOAA is projecting a 70 percent probability of the following ranges:

*  14 to 23 Named Storms (top winds of 39 mph or higher), including:
*  8 to 14 Hurricanes (top winds of 74 mph or higher), of which:
*  3 to 7 could be Major Hurricanes (Category 3, 4 or 5; winds of at least 111 mph)

Hurricane Ike.NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center issued its seasonal outlook today.

It is a worrisome.  Administrator Lubchenco, says, “If this outlook holds true, this season could be one of the more active on record.”

What is the biggest uncertainty in the forecast?

“The main uncertainty in this outlook is how much above normal the season will be. Whether or not we approach the high end of the predicted ranges depends partly on whether or not La Ni±a develops this summer,” said Gerry Bell, Ph.D., lead seasonal hurricane forecaster at NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center. “At present we are in a neutral state, but conditions are becoming increasingly favorable for La Ni±a to develop.”

The CPC report explains:

La Ni±a contributes to reduced vertical wind shear over the western tropical Atlantic which, when combined with conditions associated with the ongoing high activity era and warm Atlantic SSTs, increases the probability of an exceptionally active Atlantic hurricane season (Bell and Chelliah 2006). NOAA’s high-resolution CFS model indicates the development of La Ni±a-like circulation and precipitation anomalies during July.

One of the three key factors leading NOAA to this forecast is the high sea surface temperatures:

Warm Atlantic Ocean water. Sea surface temperatures are expected to remain above average where storms often develop and move across the Atlantic. Record warm temperatures – up to four degrees Fahrenheit above average – are now present in this region.

Here is more of the forecast:

An important measure of the total overall seasonal activity is the NOAA Accumulated Cyclone Energy (ACE) index, which accounts for the intensity and duration of named storms and hurricanes during the season. We estimate a 70% chance that the 2010 seasonal ACE range will be 155%-270% of the median. According to NOAA’s hurricane season classifications, an ACE value above 117% of the 1950-2000 median reflects an above-normal season. An ACE value above 175% of the median reflects an exceptionally active (or hyperactive) season.

And what about the Gulf where a massive oil spill resides:

Because of the ongoing oil crisis in the Gulf of Mexico, we are including some historical statistics of tropical cyclone activity for this region (excluding the Bay of Campeche) based on past above normal seasons. These statistics do not represent an explicit forecast for tropical cyclones in the Gulf of Mexico during 2010, as it is impossible to reliably predict such activity so far in advance. Historically, all above normal seasons have produced at least one named storm in the Gulf of Mexico, and 95% of those seasons have at least two named storms in the Gulf. Most of this activity (80%) occurs during August-October. However, 50% of above normal seasons have had at least one named storm in the region during June-July.

If you want a comprehensive discussion of what a Gulf hurricane might mean for the oil disaster, Dr. Jeff Masters has a good post, “What a hurricane would do the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.”

Related Post:

How accurate are the NOAA seasonal hurricane forecasts?  Click here.  Summary at Wunderblog.

21 Responses to NOAA expects “active to extremely active” Atlantic hurricane season

  1. Dittoheads says:

    Rush Limbaugh has beat the NOAA forecast for several years now.

  2. fj2 says:

    This provides ample incentive for The President to initiate geo-science and geo-engineering schools, research and development programs on the scale of the Manhattan Project and Space Race to the Moon.

    Development of mitigation strategies preventing say, a Category 5 Tropical Cyclone from hitting landfall in the New York Metropolitan Region would likely prevent losses at over 100 billion dollars.

    While this is science and technology that appears to be far beyond current capabilities — even though it seems that this is something Microsoft’s Bill Gates is looking into — the potential should be great for other mitigation strategies, applications, and environmentally-based clean energy initiatives.

  3. prokaryote says:

    It will be intresting to find out how climate change effects hurricane tracks. Laila just gave an impression on how a strong cyclone can significantly damage from extended rainfall patterns.
    Laila curved along the coast.

    Cyclone Laila

    Cyclonic Storm Laila (IMD designation:BOB 01, JTWC designation:01B) is the first cyclonic storm to affect southeastern India in May since the 1990 Andhra Pradesh cyclone. The first tropical cyclone of the 2010 North Indian Ocean cyclone season

    Sri Lanka’s Disaster Management Center has reported that 513,586 from 118,888 families have been affected and 20 people have died by this evening due to the devastating floods caused by incessant torrential rain. [..] The prevailing unusual weather pattern is caused by the activation of the South-Western monsoon period on top of the feeder bands of Cyclone Leila moving over the island, it said.

  4. paulm says:

    I have no reason to disbelieve Joseph’s analysis…the graphs speak for themselves…

    Intensity or Frequency?

    …there’s a strong causal association between sea-surface temperatures and the number of named storms (or tropical cyclones) in the Atlantic Basin. Statistically, the association is quite significant, and graphically, it is evident once you apply very simple smoothing filters.

  5. Mark Shapiro says:

    PSC has just updated its Arctic Sea Ice Volume Anomaly chart today — and it’s another record low at -9,500 km3 (below average). In fact, they had to increase the range on the graph to add more room at the bottom.

    Meanwhile JAXA sea ice extent is almost at the record low for this time of year, and on the UIUC Arctic cryosphere map you can watch the ice coming apart at the seams, especially above western Siberia. On their “compare” button (to compare the ice map on any two days in the 30 year record) it looks like the snow cover over Siberia is way below normal.

    Not to dwell on single points of data, and of course conditions can change quickly, but predictions of record lows in September are getting easier to make.

  6. John McCormick says:

    I guess all we can do is pray for the Hatians trapped under tarps and plastic sheets.

    Doesn’t their plight tell us how ineffective the world community will be when massive climate change refugees are forced to migrate (Bangladesh comes first to mind)?

    John McCormick

  7. llewelly says:

    How accurate are the NOAA seasonal hurricane forecasts?

    Like the seasonal forecasts from CSU or TSR, they have very little skill until August. The only tropical activity metric which NOAA forecasts with useful skill is ACE (forecast to be within 155% – 270% of the median). No significant skill in their forecasts of the number of tropical storms, number of hurricanes, or number of intense hurricanes. These pre-season forecasts mostly serve as a tool for testing ideas that might one day lead to useful pre-season forecasts. For the time being, it’s too early to tell. Wait until August.

    [JR: Yes, but Masters notes, “The three past seasons with record warm April SST anomalies all had abnormally high numbers of intense hurricanes.”]

  8. llewelly says:

    John McCormick says:
    May 27, 2010 at 5:08 pm:

    Doesn’t their plight tell us how ineffective the world community will be when massive climate change refugees are forced to migrate (Bangladesh comes first to mind)?

    Only if governments continue to evade their responsibilities for adequate preparation. Rapid evacuation in the face of severe hurricanes has been done successfully many times before – and if someone would take responsibility, there is still time to prepare evacuation resources necessary for Hati. After all, the majority of hurricane activity takes place after the 2nd week of August. Sea level rise is much slower, and far easier to forecast in advance. If millions of Bangladeshis, Southeast Asians, or others from low-lying areas are rendered homeless or dead, it will be due to a failure of will, a failure of empathy, or a failure of morality. Not a lack of knowledge, not a lack of ability.

  9. Mark Shapiro says:


    Yes. AGW stands to be the longest, deepest, slowest moving human tragedy ever. It will grind exceedingly slowly, and exceedingly fine.

  10. Michael Tucker says:

    Yes John (4 above), the Haitians are in harms way this season and, I agree, their plight is a clear indication of the shape of things to come.

  11. James Prescott says:

    @2)fj2 “preventing say, a Category 5 Tropical Cyclone from hitting landfall”

    In “Defeating the Son of Andrew”, Leon O Billig proposed giant 20000ft chimneys as a hurricane defense. By providing a path for hot humid air to rise out of the weather system, you would produce dry air which is deadly to hurricanes. As a bonus you turn the humidity into both electricity and potable water.

    This was the science fact article in the 2/1994 Analog magazine. He seemed to think it possible, though very expensive, even then with current technology. Haven’t heard any more about it since then.

  12. Raul says:

    Possibly genitics could give microbic mutation a jump
    start on evolution for the comming extinction. Go on
    pick an ideal microbe that makes oxygen from CO2.
    doesn’t make fuel though. Just an economically
    passive little creature. Wait a few millions of years
    then the climate will be nice again. See it’s all quite
    easy, no hurry or need to rush about. It’s all in the cards.

  13. Raul says:

    Possibly the part about it being econically benign
    places it in a blind spot as humanity goes.

  14. Raul says:

    Sorry, economically not a moneymaker…

  15. cuband says:

    I am curious about the interaction between the oil spill and this up and coming hurricane season. Coupled with additional problems (other oil platforms being dislodged due to a hurricane), this could end up being a real mess.

  16. Raul says:

    Thought of an advertising plum for electric bicycles,
    if true, it takes less to ride an electric bicycle 10 miles
    than it takes to walk 10 miles. That the electric bicycle is
    more fuel efficient than the human body for transportation.
    Long experience that the bicycle is more efficient than
    simply walking.

  17. Raul says:

    But, it’s still true that the crosswind doesn’t have to be very high
    before it becomes tooooo windy for bicycling.

  18. Lewis W. says:

    I’m curious what sort of ranges they are calling for with 80% or 90% probability? Or is 70% as robust as their projections get?

    Not that it isn’t scary already but I get the sinking feeling they are holding back out of typical scientific conservatism.

  19. fj2 says:

    11. James Prescott, Yes, people have been thinking about tropical cyclone mitigation for years. A recent New Scientist (or, Scientific American) article discusses how Microsoft’s Bill Gates is looking into it but the scale of these things and hurdles seem to be impossible; and, there are others working on it as well.

    My approach, might be to encourage large-scale underwater convection systems hopefully by passive means — maybe by improving local heat conduction — from deep cold waters cooling sea surface temperatures near landfall with the added benefit of reducing local temperatures and requisite air conditioning; something important to consider since extended heat waves are increasingly a serious concern.

    Currently, there seems to be no indication that this is feasible or practical because of the scales involved but, I still suspect — mainly, because I do not know any better — that it can be achieved with enormous benefit.

  20. paulm says:

    Extreme weather arrives in Canada…

    More than 2,300 people were ordered from their homes in communities in the Upper Mauricie region after record-breaking heat, windy conditions and lightning storms created ideal conditions for sparks to spread.

    Read more:

    Some areas of Saskatchewan, including Saskatoon, have received record amounts of rain in April and May.

    Read more:

  21. From Peru says:

    In the East Pcific, a tropical storm named Agatha has formed.

    It is the first in the season and tomorrow will hit Guatemala: