Looking Ahead to the 2012 Atlantic Hurricane Season

It is better to be qualitatively right than quantitatively wrong.†

This Warren Buffett quote cited by Colorado State University’s Tropical Meteorology Project opens their discussion of the features likely to affect next year’s Atlantic hurricane season.

As the Palm Beach Post’s Eye On the Storm blog notes, for the first time in 29 years, the CSU team is limiting its December forecast to probabilities rather than estimating the number of tropical storms that will form, which will become hurricanes, and which of those will be major hurricanes.

The CSU team says:

We have suspended issuing quantitative forecasts at this extended-range lead time, since they have not proved skillful over the last 20 years.†

Instead, the CSU team looked at two parameters: the strength of the Atlantic thermohaline circulation (THC) and the phase of El Nià ±o – Southern Oscillation (ENSO):

We have been in an active era for Atlantic basin tropical cyclones since 1995, and we expect that typical conditions associated with a positive Atlantic Multi-Decadal Oscillation (AMO) and strong thermohaline circulation (THC) to continue.†

The CSU team expects the 2012 Atlantic basin hurricane season will be primarily determined by the strength of the THC/AMO and by the state of ENSO.

So what can we glean about next year’s hurricane activity from their discussion?

– A 45 percent chance that the THC continues in the above-average condition it has been in since 1995 and no El Nià ±o develops resulting in a seasonal average net tropical cyclone (NTC) activity of 140, suggesting 12-15 named storms, 7-9 hurricanes, 3-4 major hurricanes.

– A 30 percent chance of a continuing above-average THC with the development of a significant El Nià ±o, resulting in NTC activity of 75, with 8-11 named storms, 3-5 hurricanes, 1-2 major hurricanes.

– A 15 percent chance that THC circulation becomes unusually strong in 2012 and no El Nià ±o develops resulting in NTC activity of 180, with 14-17 named storms, 9-11 hurricanes, 4-5 major hurricanes.

– A 10 percent chance of a weaker THC and a significant El Nià ±o resulting in NTC activity of 40, with 5-7 named storms, 2-3 hurricanes, 0-1 major hurricanes.

Come back April 4 for the CSU team’s update of its 2012 Atlantic basin hurricane forecast.

In the mean time check out  Ã‚  I.I.I. facts and statistics on hurricanes.

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