Ask a Staten Islander who lost his home in Hurricane Sandy about forecasting an entire hurricane season and he might look at you unblinkingly and say, “It only takes one.”
Which is why the “very active” second half of the 2013 hurricane season predicted by the National Oceanic Atmospheric Association (NOAA) is so scary.
Based on the current and expected conditions, combined with model forecasts, the agency estimate a 70 percent probability for each of the following: 13 to 19 named storms, six to nine hurricanes (with winds exceeding 74 mph), and three to five major hurricanes (with winds exceeding 110 mph) to form before the 2013 season ends on November 30.
“Our confidence for an above-normal season is still high because the predicted atmospheric and oceanic conditions that are favorable for storm development have materialized,” said Gerry Bell, the agency’s lead seasonal hurricane forecaster.
His and NOAA’s forecast was based, in part, “on a stronger rainy season in West Africa, which produces wind patterns that help turn storm systems into tropical storms and hurricanes,” reports National Geographic.
Will any of these 13 to 19 storms actually make landfall? That’s virtually impossible to foretell, as NOAA states:
Predicting where and when hurricanes will strike is related to daily weather patterns, which are not reliably predictable weeks or months in advance. Therefore, it is currently not possible to accurately predict the number or intensity of landfalling hurricanes at these extended ranges, or whether a particular locality will be impacted by a hurricane this season.
NOAA’s update comes just a month after the nation’s leading hurricane expert predicted that global warming would spawn bigger and badder hurricanes in the coming decades.
In that report, MIT scientist Kerry Emanuel used computer models to deduce that the frequency of tropical cyclones—the umbrella term for hurricanes, typhoons, and tropical storms—will increase between 10 and 40 percent by 2100. Right now about 90 tropical cyclones form each year in the world’s oceans.
On the (quasi) bright side, all those hurricanes would bring a lot of rain, so yay, drought relief (forced smile).