09
Aug
07

2007 Hurricane Season – WTF?

EmilyMany countries have seen major weather disruption this year, with flooding and other extreme events. But, curiously, these events have also highlighted the unpredictability of weather and how little those that predict it seem to understand it. For a number of years I’ve been interested in the formation of Hurricanes, using various weather and satellite services to track them. I find it fascinating to watch them develop from a small pressure wave, into a low, tropical storm and then occasionally a full-blown Hurricane. Obviously sometimes the consequences can be very serious, so it’s important that work goes on to better understand them, but this years predictions have been wildly out. Before the season started (officially on June 1st) the hurricane forecast team at Colorado State University (CSU) in Fort Collins anticipated that 17 named storms to form in the Atlantic between June 1st and November 30th. And to back them up Noah (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) also punted for a ‘very active’ season.
The first tropical storm actually beat the start of the season by almost a month, so they must have thought they’d got 2007 down pat. In fact it’s been an almost implausibly quiet season. But they’ve continued to make these predictions, with the CSU stating on the 3rd of August that it still expects 15 named storms, 8 Hurricanes and four of those to be major.
However, so far we’ve seen only three named storms, and no Hurricanes whatsoever. To hit the CSU numbers requires an average of a named storm each week and a Hurricane every two for the rest of the season. The least active season on record is four named storms, of which two where Hurricanes, neither major. Is 2007 going to rival that?
What concerns me is that if 2007 is a total bust for Hurricanes, people might not take the 2008 predictions very seriously, which might have dire consequences. And. obviously the weather still isn’t something we understand nearly enough.

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