The Tropical Meteorology Project released its updated pre-season outlook today, revising its April forecast calling for a below-average season (in terms of the number of named storms) to one projecting an about average season. This is more in line with the outlook issued by the National Hurricane Center last week, suggesting that the season will produce average to slightly above average activity.
There are two things I’d like to point out with this:
1. Pre-season hurricane forecasting is an embryonic science at best. Nevertheless, this is how science advances. By looking at various factors influencing the number of storms in a season and then making predictions based upon this data, the goal is find those factors that will ultimately give a good indication of whether the season will be active or relatively inactive.
2. More important, however, is the question of whether this makes much difference to us living along the western Gulf Coast? Looking at our hurricane history, some of our worst storms have come in average to below average seasons—the 1875 Hurricane, the 1900 Storm, the 1909 Hurricane, the 1915 Storm, the 1943 Hurricane, Hurricane Audrey in 1957, Hurricane Carla in 1961, and Hurricane Alicia in 1983 all appeared in seasons with below average or average hurricane activity. In fact, only a handful of major storms have impacted our area during above average seasons: Hurricane Ike in 2008, Hurricane Rita in 2005 and the 1933 Hurricane.
The thing to remember is that it takes only one storm to ruin our season. So I neither take great comfort in expecting an average or below average season, nor quake with fear if an above average season looms.
Speaking of the Tropics, some models have been hinting at some development in the Gulf of Mexico next week. They have not been too consistent regarding this, however, and it remains highly speculative at this time. The general scenario calls for the remnants of Tropical Depression 2 in the Pacific to move north across Mexico and merge into the southern and central Gulf of Mexico where it will foster the development of a closed low system. If there is good news with this, indications are that conditions will be somewhat unfavorable for full development and that any system will likely move northeastward, away from the western Gulf.
Still, this is a good reminder that the Hurricane Season is here and now is the time to make plans for any activity that does head our way.