Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Revised Estimates on 2011 Tropical Season Out Today

Dr. William Grey and company at Colorado State University released their latest prediction* of how the 2011 Tropical Weather Season will shape up today.  They are calling for 16 named storms and 9 hurricanes.  They are forecasting 5 of the 9 hurricanes to reach "major" intensity (category 3 or greater).

I'm amused by most of the media's initial reaction, with many headlines reading something like "Oh Boy, Here They Go Again...", or something of the sort.  think they have a sore spot for advanced tropical weather prediction because of last season.  It, too was forecast to be well above normal, and that's exactly what happened.  In fact, the 2010 season finished as the 3rd most active in history, with 19 named storms, 12 hurricanes and 5 major hurricanes.

So what's the problem then?  The "problem" for the media, in my opinion, is that the U.S. itself had very little impact by storms in 2010.  As you can see by the chart below, most of the tropical storms and hurricanes took place well out into the Atlantic basin, with little to no impact on the U.S.:

I guess it's kind of an "out of site, out of mind" situation to them.  It's almost like, "nothing bad really happened in the U.S., so the season as a whole wasn't all that bad..."

That's a very dangerous mindset to have (again, my opinion only - you don't have to agree with it).  I venture to guess that even if there had only been 1 named storm in 2010, and it was a Katrina-like hurricane, and it hit Houston, TX directly, the entire media picture would be different.
I know that all things are relative, especially when we're talking about the weather. I just think this is an extreme case, even for the usual suspects in the "mainstream" news media.

Well, with all of that said, our friends at CNN and MSNBC should take heart.  One private weather forecasting firm, AccuWeather, is predicting not only an above average season overall in 2011, but an above average season for the U.S. coastline as well (see image below):

From the link above:  "It looks like we're going to have more impact on the mainland of the U.S. coming up this year compared to last year," Pastelok said. "We had a lot of storms last year, but not a lot of impact [on the U.S.]."

That must be music to the media's ears....

*Warning:  The report referenced under the "prediction" link is highly technical, and may be downright offensive to non-meteorologically inclined readers.  Okay, maybe "offensive" is too strong of a word, but you get my drift...

No comments: