The final tally for the 2011 season was another highly active total of 19 named storms with 7 hurricanes and 3 of them becoming major hurricanes. The season started with 8 tropical storms in a row - which is a record - and quickly put a dent in many of the early season predictions. A total of 28 forecasts were submitted and the average forecast was 15/8/4. The forecasts were graded for total deviation (plus or minus) from the actual number in each of the three categories and then totaled to get a final score for each forecast. The levels of skill and the number of forecasts in each grouping were as follows:
0-2 Outstanding (none)
3-4 Excellent - 2 forecasts
5-6 Good - 10 forecasts
7-8 Fair - 11 forecasts
9-11 (Oops) - 5 forecasts
GoBigSurf was the winner this season with a score of 3, and Lamar-Plant City was a close second with a score of 4.
Good forecasts with a score of 5 or 6 were recorded for WesnWylie, saltysenior, gsand, jessiej, NewWatcher, M.A., Clark, Valandil, srquirrely and cieldumort.
CSU has decided not to issue a quantitative (numerical) forecast in December because they feel that ENSO forecasts do not show any skill at the 6 to 9 month forecast period (probably true) but I think that a forecast is still feasible - if nothing more than an initial starting point which can be based on long range SST projections that are still being issued by NOAA. Forecasts are always tweaked anyway as the start of the season gets closer. With that approach in mind, I'll start the discussion with my outlook for next season - and we'll transfer it, and any of your initial 2012 forecasts, into the new 2012 Storm Forum at the beginning of the new year.
NOAA expects the current La Nina to continue through the Summer of the 2012 hurricane season in the Atlantic basin. They also expect that the SST anomaly over just about the entire Atlantic basin will remain neutral for the full tropical season. With that expectation, the best analog years for 2012 would seem to be 1956 (8/4/2), 1975 (9/6/3), 1971 (13/6/2) and 1932 (11/6/4). 1932 is more for likely track pattern rather than numbers. 2000 (15/8/3) was also considered, but rejected as a good analog because during 2000 a warm anomaly (rather than a neutral condition) existed in the central Atlantic along 30N.
My initial outlook for the 2012 season is for 11 or 12 named storms (I'll firm up the number in the Spring) with 6 hurricanes and 3 major hurricanes - pretty much a normal season of activity. Primary U.S. landfall threat zone looks like the Florida panhandle westward to the Texas coast (all of it). In other words, the initial pattern suggests more of a northern Gulf Coast season for 2012, but that could certainly change in the next six months.
If you feel the urge, you can add your own initial thoughts for the upcoming season - and your numbers can be revised as often as you wish until the 2012 thread gets closed on June 1st.