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The 2013 Atlantic Hurricane Season is officially over. June 1st-Nov 30th, 2014 for the next.
Number of days since last Hurricane Landfall in US: 542 (Sandy) , in Florida: 3104 (8 y 6 m) (Wilma)
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Outlook for 2014

Posted: 03:16 PM 13 February 2014 | | Add Comment

This is reposted from the storm forum by Ed Dunham, as the winter storm is affecting much of the south,

Its the start of a New Year and time to consider the initial outlook for tropical cyclone activity during 2014 in the Atlantic basin. After three highly active years from 2010 to 2012, tropical cyclone activity dropped quite a bit during the 2013 season. Although there were 13 named storms - a slightly above normal number, the season produced just two hurricanes and no major hurricanes. Last year in the Outlook I noted that there has never been 4 seasons in a row with a high level of activity and 2013 kept that premise intact.

With only two hurricanes, the Accumulated Cyclone Energy (ACE) for the basin was quite low - and 2013 was not an El Nino year. The downward trend in activity is likely to continue for two reasons: 1) the latest NCEP SST Forecast issued on December 30th, 2013, predicts Northern Hemisphere ENSO neutral conditions for the Spring of 2014 and El Nino conditions in the 3.4 region for the Summer of 2014. The NCEP Forecast seems reasonable, and there is a good chance that at least a Moderate El Nino will exist for the August through October peak of the Atlantic hurricane season. 2) 2013 was the first year since 1994 without a major hurricane (the last season with just two hurricanes was 1982). With the expectation for lower tropical cyclone totals in the Atlantic basin in 2014, its quite possible that the so-called 25-year cycle of peak activity in the basin (which actually has never been exactly 25 years) could be over.

Unlike recent years when it was difficult to pinpoint a good analog year, 2014 has a bunch of them. The best analog seems to be 1963 - here is the list with corresponding storm totals:

1. 1963 9/7/2
2. 1979 9/5/2
3. 1982 6/2/1
4. 1968 8/4/0
5. 1991 8/4/2
6. 2002 11/4/2

With western Atlantic SSTs expected to remain on the warm side during the 2014 season, I'll lean toward the first two analogs with an initial slightly below normal outlook of 9 named storms and 5 hurricanes with 2 of the hurricanes reaching major hurricane status of Cat III or higher (9/5/2). If the trend toward a more significant El Nino becomes evident in the late Spring, the final forecast may require a downward adjustment.

We typically have a mini contest for season numbers, which you can see in the Storm Forum.
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Ed Dunham

Are Seasonal Forecasts Worthwhile?

Posted: 11:27 AM 24 October 2013
In another Forum, Robbissimo asked some excellent questions that are certainly pertinent to this season:

"I would still like to hear your take on the 8th Anniversary of Wilma, specifically whether predicting the weather and hurricanes in particular is a worthwhile endeavor. Seriously, would anyone have predicted we'd go eight years without a single hurricane? Is it that unusual?"

All good questions that I'm sure others have also considered. The short answer is 'No', I certainly would not have predicted an 8 year hurricane drought for Florida and it is rare to go that long without a landfalling hurricane in the state. Here is a link to a Met Blog that I posted in early May of 2012 that chronicles other long stretches without a hurricane in Florida:

Florida's Next Hurricane

The 'Outlook for 2014' in the 2014 Storm Forum explores the probability that the 2014 season may be even quieter than 2013.

Predicting the weather in general and the characteristics of a specific hurricane is a most worthwhile effort. Any type of warning (Hurricane, Tornado, Flood) usually means that deaths and injuries are reduced.

Meteorology is the youngest natural science - perhaps with 150 years under its belt as a science. Compare that with astronomy with 5,000 years. Weather prediction has improved considerably, but we are still learning about the atmosphere and how to predict its changes. With the exception of summertime showers, local weather forecasts are much better than they were 50 years ago. New technology (radar, satellite, computers) has helped to make forecasts better. Does a forecast for 100% chance of rain fail to verify every now and then? - yes, but the science itself is still young. Do seasonal rainfall/temperature forecasts have merit even though their accuracy is limited? - yes, because agricultural and transportation interests, et al, can use them for planning purposes (and often save money as a result). Do seasonal hurricane forecasts have merit? - I think so, although after this season I'm sure that there will be a considerable amount of discussion and research (and soul-searching) related to that topic. Insurance companies don't really use that data as much as the public is lead to believe - but Emergency Management folks do - again, for resource planning purposes. It doesn't always prove very useful for two reasons: 1) the old adage that 'all it takes is one bad storm during an otherwise quiet season', and 2) the outlook can be way off base (like this year) - which takes us back to 'the science itself is still young'.

To continue to make the forecast and to then have some significant forecast failures usually motivates the science to seek answers in an attempt to improve the next forecast.
ED
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