Today, Drs. Phil Klotzbach and Bill Gray updated their Atlantic Seasonal Hurricane Forecast. After being humbled by the lack of skill in their seasonal forecasts the past couple of years, I’m glad to see they have developed a new prediction scheme this year which was used on their June 3rd update and which will hopefully show more skill. They continue to predict an active Atlantic basin hurricane season with 15 named storms, of which 8 are expected to become hurricanes, and 4 of them becoming major hurricanes. These are the same numbers given in their April 9th forecast.
I received an email a couple of days ago from someone who said “I think (seasonal) hurricane forecasting is a joke. It gets people nervous and excited for nothing…You telling me there will be (so many storms so many months) before hurricane season starts is useless. What a waste of time.”
My take on this is that Klotzbach and Gray produce one of several of the seasonal hurricane forecasts. Bill Gray gets tremendous credit for being the pioneer in seasonal hurricane forecasting. There is a natural curiosity about how active the upcoming season will be and these seasonal forecasts are not going away. But we don’t want to scare people. We want to prepare people. No matter what value one sees in the seasonal forecasts, they can be used to bring visibility to the hurricane season and encourage people to prepare. At a recent hurricane conference, I spoke with Drs. Klotzbach and Gray about the need to focus more on preparedness.
I was pleased to see the first page (after the title page) of their extended outlook (http://hurricane.atmos.colostate.edu/Foprecasts) clearly states “Coastal residents need to prepare for every hurricane season, regardless of seasonal predictions. There is inherent uncertainty in seasonal predictions. Also, seasonal forecasts do not say anything about when or where storms are going to make landfall…”
I couldn’t have said it better myself, except perhaps to add a quote from Ben Franklin: “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.”