2011 Hurricane forecast

Colleagues, As many of you know, I am not into prognostication when I know the uncertainties are larger than any meaningful estimate. But the public wish to know when and how many, so there are those will fulfill that need (desire) with what is really their guesses. Any realistic analysis shows that beyond common sense, no one, PhD or not, has anything resembling precise knowledge of what will happen.

Beyond that, what we DO know for sure, is that the numbers mean little, next to nothing. (Unless, you have a bet, of course). 1992 only had 4, that's right FOUR, hurricanes, but more than any other year, changed your insurance rates and everything we fear. That was because the very first Tropical Storm/ Hurricane was Hurricane Andrew. And what the cost of a direct hit on a populated city became not a risk managers cry in the dark, but a reality to deal with. And "drive by" home inspections became more rare (I hope). Last year we had 19 named storms, 12 hurricanes (not 4), and there were 5 major hurricanes (Catagory 3 or greater). Yet not one made US landfall. And to most, the season was not very "exciting". The folks living in Bermuda could be excused for having such a benign feeling of the season.

Okay, with all those caveat of how little we truly know (oddly, the ones that know the most, are the most modest in estimate of the efficacy of their predictions) here is my (gulp) forecast. NOAA boldly predicts 12 to 18 named storms (maximum winds of 39 mph or greater); 6 to 10 hurricanes (winds (74 mph or greater) and 3 to 6 Major hurricanes (winds 111 mph or greater.

CSU, which shows the most guts and has the strongest record of being wrong, mitigated by changing the numbers every few moths until they get really close to correct by Dec. 1 boldly states there will be 16 named storms, 9 hurricanes and 5 major hurricanes. Notice that these numbers are embraced by NOAA less gutsy prediction.

A group at FSU says these number should be 14-20 named storms, with 8-10 hurricanes with no mention of how many are Category 3 and above.

We know there will be more than one and less that 50. And we can narrow the distribution and safely and be assured of being still very accurate. In general, the wider the spread, the more likely the true number will fall within our prediction. But who wants to know tomorrow high temperature is between 40 and 105 F.. If you are going to predict, then give a number. The truth is we don't really know, except we can make quasi intelligent guesses based upon history and state of some of the controlling influences in the atmosphere.

BUT, the real issue (coming full circle) is not how many there are, but where they hit ! And that is impossible to predict accurately. But if you want to pin me to the wall, here are my (false) predictions. 16 named storms, 8 hurricanes, 4 major hurricanes, 4 US landfalls, and 2 Florida landfalls. Zero, hurricanes in Tallahassee. And I will also predict my predictions fail, and this is that one prediction that will be correct :)

This is also a list test.

If I get my computer programing to run, I will add some additional statistical information on my blog. Hint: I view the history as pre 1995 and post 1995.

This will be the final test until a emerging tropical storm or unless problems in communication suggest another test is warranted.

Lastly, I want to thank those of you who have expressed many kind words. It makes these 3 am mornings worth while. I shall do my best to uphold them. Check out the blog at http://www.hurricanehunt.com I will try and post some interesting articles from time to time.

Thank you again for your confidence. I do take this seriously.

Peter Ray

DISCLAIMER: The Florida State University required that I not use any FSU equipment to send out these forecasts. To comply, I have purchased my own computer for making and sending these forecasts. I have been touched by the many offers of encouragement and support that I have received. I am deeply indebted to the Secretary and the staff of the Department of Children and Families who value these forecasts for the citizens of Florida. Also to the firm Hayes Computer Systems, which set up the distribution software and is providing for the distribution of these forecasts at no cost. They are very professional and competent. I acknowledge that these forecasts are mine alone, by my own effort and initiative. I only try to provide the best possible forecasts for the community, and the State of Florida and now, surrounding states at no cost to those who receive it.


I have set up a website and blog which may be reached at URL http://www.hurricanehunt.com In this website you can find the forecast, as well as a blog of expanded interests of mine dealing with weather and climate and hurricanes, and an opportunity for you to comment as well. There is also an opportunity for you to contribute to defraying the increasing costs of maintaining this service, if and only if you want to. This must always be a not for profit public service and free as long as I have anything to do with it. But I have had offers of help in the past and it is increasingly difficult for me to underwrite all the cost, even with the generous and gracious support form Hayes Computer Systems.


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Peter S. Ray

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