As I write this there is an area of low pressure about 500 miles NE of the Leeward Islands with a 20% chance of becoming a “subtropical” cyclone in the next 48 hours. That said, today is the last day of the 2011 hurricane season in the Atlantic basin. How did we fare this year?
In August, Dr. Gray issued an update to his seasonal forecast. In it he called for 9 hurricanes with 5 of them being major hurricanes. He called for 16 named storms, down one from his June 2011 forecast of 17 named storms. Meanwhile, the Climate Prediction Center (CPC) also updated their outlook for the season too. In it they called for 14 – 19 named storms, 7 –10 hurricanes, and 3 – 5 major hurricanes.
How many named storms did we actually get?
Storm Name Dates Max Wind (MPH) TS Arlene 20 June – 1 July 65 TS Bret 17 – 22 July 65 TS Cindy 20 – 22 July 70 DS Don 27 – 30 July 50 TS Emily 1 – 7 August 50 TS Franklin 12 – 13 August 45 TS Gert 13 – 16 August 65 TS Harvey 19 – 22 August 60 MH Irene 20 – 28 August 120 TS Jose 28 – 29 August 45 MH Katia 29 August – 10 September 135 TS Lee 2 – 5 September 60 H Maria 6 – 16 September 80 H Nate (1) 7 – 11 September 70 MH Ophelia 21 September – 3 October 140 H Philipe 24 September – 9 October 90 H Rina 23 – 28 October 110 TS Sean 7 – 11 November 65 (2)
Note 1. Hurricane Nate was upgraded during post-storm analysis to hurricane status. I haven’t seen the maximum observed wind on Nate so I’ve left the 70mph number as is.
Note 2. The strongest report I can find on maximum sustained winds in TS Sean were 65mph. NHC has not yet issued their final summary on the season, so I’ll update this post if 65mph was NOT the maximum wind for this storm.
I count 18 named storms though I’ve seen attempts by others in other places to count Tropical Depression 10 as a named storm. My scorecard for the early forecasts:
CPC Dr. Gray Actual Number Named 14 – 19 16 18 Hurricanes 7 – 10 9 6 Maj Hurricanes 3 – 5 5 3
While we had more than the average number of named storms, our number of actual hurricanes was about average. The increased number of named storms can be attributed to better sensing technology, modeling capabilities, and forecasting abilities. Four of the named storms had winds of 50 miles per hour (or less) many of which might not have been caught 20 or 30 years ago.
As far as storms go, my philosophy is that it’s better to be prepared and not have a storm rather than not be prepared and actually getting one. I like to attempt to try to forecast where they will go before the National Hurricane Center starts issuing forecasts on them… I did that last year and again this year. My best forecast was for Irene. I predicted it would “Rake the east coast” with a landfall in North Carolina approximately a week before it did… was my best attempt at forecasting a hurricane ever.
Storm names for 2012 from the National Hurricane Center:
Our next hurricane season begins in just 185 days… Are you ready? If not follow the old scout motto of “Be Prepared” so make a plan and be ready!