It may seem premature to talk about tropical weather with a long, chilly winter barely behind us and Hurricane Season a month and a half away. Still, the topic has been in the air among forecasters and emergency management specialists, with the National Tropical Weather Conference concluding in South Padre Island and the National Hurricane Conference in Orlando, Fla.

Some of the buzz this spring has been around the topic of preseason hurricane forecasting. As you may know, the famous team of Drs. Klotzbach and Gray are predicting a below average season (in terms of total number of storms) this year as El Niño develops later this summer. You may also know that preseason forecasts were fairly far off the mark last year, with a very active season predicted.

To be fair, the forecasts are experimental, though they did get hyped into a more definitive outlook by some commentators. In actuality, the missed forecasts were actually a good thing. Klotzbach and Gray have identified factors that they believe contribute to increased storm development. As they admit after this past season, obviously there are some elements left to add to their calculations. That is how science develops. Sometimes a failed prediction is a blessing in disguise in that it forces you to go back to the data to see what is missing.  In the long-term, this will actually increase the effectiveness of such forecasts.

Speaking of forecasts, I have run across a site run by a man named Dale Link. I know nothing of his methodology or his background.  He claims an 82 percent success rate in predicting hurricane landfalls since 1998. In looking at his forecasts since 2002, I do not find as high a success rate (especially if you eliminate the fudge factor). Still, he was dead-on in predicting the landfall sites for Hurricanes Ike and Rita.

At any rate, he is projecting a hurricane landfall on the upper-Texas coast or Louisiana coast this season. Such an event would not surprise me. We usually see a tropical storm or hurricane come within 100 miles of the upper-Texas coast about once every five years and it has been six years since Ike. While I cannot vouch for the accuracy of his outlook, I will say that the clock is ticking and I would not be surprised to see such an event, even with the anticipated El Niño and a lighter than normal hurricane season.

Below is a link to Dale Link’s forecast site:

http://www.thefargos.com/weather/hurricane/hurricane_landfall_predictions.htm

Stan Blazyk is a life-long weather enthusiast, long-time Galveston resident and author of "A Century of Galveston Weather." He has written the weather blog for the Galveston County Daily News for more than a decade.

(5) comments

Steve Fouga

Stan, for purposes of storm forecasting, what do you consider "the upper Texas Coast?" Down to about the Colorado River?

Stan Blazyk Staff
Stan Blazyk

That's not a bad way to divide it up. Generally, I would include Matagorda County as well. Any decent sized storm coming in between Freeport and Matagorda will wallop Galveston County fairly well. I notice that when they post warnings for the Upper-Texas coast, they often extend from Palacios or Matagorda eastward.

But, in reality there is no hard and set division between the regions. Hurricane Carla came in at Port O'Connor and that was considered a landfall on the middle Texas coast.

Stan Blazyk Staff
Stan Blazyk

Good question.

Actually, as far as Southern Region National Weather Service divisions go, the Houston-Galveston NWS extends south to Port O'Connor and Matagorda Bay, but only east through Chambers and Liberty Counties. The Beaumont-Port Arthur area is now with Lake Charles. South of Port O'Connor we run into the Corpus Christi NWS division which extends south through Kleberg County and Kingsville. The Brownsville NWS covers the are of the coast south of the Corpus region to the mouth of the Rio Grande.

In traditional terms, the upper-Texas coast usually referred to the area from the Sabine southwest to the Matagorda/Palacios area, with the Middle Texas coast referring to the area from Palacios south to north Padre and the Lower Texas coast from that sector down to the mouth of th e Rio Grande. I still prefer this older tradition.

Steve Fouga

Thanks, Stan. I'm with you on the older tradition.

George Croix

I'd prefer a repeat of the 25 year break between Alicia and Ike for this area.

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