Wed Dec 13 2006 11:09 PM
Looking ahead to 2007

By now, I'm sure you all have seen Ed's post in the blogs looking ahead to next season. As we enjoy an extended break -- this time last year, we still had activity ahead of us to contend with! -- it'll be interesting to see how the winter and spring evolve. Here's what I'm looking at over the next 4-5 months before making a forecast for 2007's season...

1) What happens with the current moderate El Nino?
Phases of the El Nino Southern Oscillation have the highest correlation to TC activity of any other variable -- accounting for about 50% of variance, even higher than changes in basin SSTs concurrent with a global warming signal (~40%). It looks like that we will see a trend back toward weak El Nino or neutral conditions as we pass through the spring, suggested by both observations and modeling. How much of this occurs and what impact is seen on the subtropical jet across the basin will help determine how much activity we can expect to see in 2007 -- especially early.

2) North Atlantic pressure patterns and storm tracks
The climate system is interconnected between seasons; the hurricane season will impact the winter season and vice versa as the tropics and midlatitudes interact with one another. There are statistically significant correlations between winter pressure patterns across the North Atlantic and seasonal TC (and recurving storm) activity. These manifest themselves with some of the climate indices out there -- AO, NAO, etc. -- but that's not important right now. How these play out will be an indicator as to whether or not we might see a slight uptick in storm activity.

3) Phases of the MJO
We all know that the MJO and its waves can tend to temporarily enhance storm activity in all of the tropical basins during the season. I also think there's a longer-term correlation between mid-spring MJO phases and storm activity as we get into the early part of the season. If we see favorable MJO waves kicking early on in April, we'll likely see a slight uptick in activity in June and July.

As of right now, I'm inclined to think that Ed is on the right track with his forecast. I too think that the early season activity may be suppressed with a more active end to the season to follow. Depending on how fast El Nino exits the picture, we could see slightly more activity. Alas, it's tough to forecast the evolution of El Nino events even a month or two out -- as this event has shown us -- and we still have plenty of time to watch things.

To borrow a phrase from 2005's season: stay tuned.

Happy holidays, everyone!

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