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: