When the name Dr. William M. Gray gets mentioned, East Coast surfers’ ears tend to perk up. That’s because before his death in 2016, Dr. Gray was the head of the Tropical Meteorology Project at Colorado State University’s Department of Atmospheric Sciences, a department widely regarded as the pioneer and leader in tropical cyclone forecasting.
Each year since 1984, the department would release seasonal forecasts for the upcoming hurricane season. The early prediction, coming out at the beginning of April each year, is a time when East Coast surfers shift gears and start licking their chops at what’s to come from the tropics starting with the official beginning of the Atlantic hurricane season on June 1.
The department has just released their 2018 early predictions and they are claiming we will see slightly above average activity this Atlantic hurricane season.
“Information obtained through March 2018 indicates that the 2018 Atlantic hurricane season will have activity slightly above the median 1981-2010 season,” the report states. “The probability of U.S. major hurricane landfall is estimated to be about 120 percent of the long-period average.”
And they are not predicting a significant El Niño season either, as we remain under a weak La Niña advisory that is expected to dissipate into neutral ENSO over the next several months. The most important takeaways from the report that surfers tend to look at are as follows:
– Named Storms: 14 (Yearly Average: 12)
– Hurricanes: 7 (Yearly Average: 6.5)
– Major Hurricanes: 3 (Yearly Average: 2)
At face value, it’s a slightly above average prediction, as the report states. It’s very important to keep in mind that this is the earliest prediction the department releases, and it is subject to change (as weather has a tendency of doing). The department releases an updated forecast the day before the Atlantic hurricane season begins.
It’s also important to take predictions like these with a grain of salt. Sometimes they pan out, sometimes they don’t. The report, now authored by Dr. Philip J. Klotzbach and Dr. Michael M. Bell, does its best to take the information gathered from National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and previous seasons numbers to formulate what they think is most likely to happen. Whether that comes true, always remains to be seen.
The 2017 Atlantic hurricane season was an extremely active one, with some seriously devastating storms. And with the increase of global temperatures and climate change attributing to stronger tropical systems, it will likely be another Atlantic hurricane season that generates the waves that East Coast surfers timidly root for while also hoping storms avoid landfall at all costs.
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