The IRI Atlantic Hurricane Activity Experimental Dynamical Forecasts
June 2011 IRI Atlantic Hurricane Activity Forecast
There is an enhanced probability (approximately 45%) that the number of tropical cyclones in the Atlantic during the 2011 peak season (August to October) will be in the above normal category, which is defined as 10 or more named tropical cyclones. There is also a 35% probability that the number of named storms in this period will be in the near normal category (between 6 and 9 named tropical cyclones). These probabilities are to be compared with the long-term average probability of 33%. The probability that the number of named storms in this period will be in the below normal (5 or less named tropical cyclones) category is 20%.
This forecast is consistent with the uncertainty about the expected SSTs in the eastern tropical Pacific as the La Nina just ended in early May, and the slightly above normal SST in the tropical North Atlantic, as shown in our SST forecast for the ASO period.
The mean number of observed Atlantic named tropical cyclones (1971-2001) in the peak season is 8.1 with a standard deviation of 3.2. The near normal category is between 6 and 9 named tropical cyclones in the August to October peak season. The lowest number of tropical cyclones in the peak season during this historical period was 3 and the maximum was 15. If the peak season climatological median ACE in the period 1971-2001 is defined as 100%, the normal range varies between 68% and 129%. The standard deviation of the ACE index is 71%, and in extreme years the index can exceed 300% or be less than 20%. The historical variability in the ACE index is proportionally larger than the variability of the number of named tropical cyclones, as it takes into account not only the number of tropical cyclones but also their intensity and duration.
This outlook was produced by tracking Atlantic hurricane-like systems in one of our operational atmospheric general circulation models (AGCMs), ECHAM4.5, forced with IRI's predicted sea surface temperatures. While low-resolution (approximately 2.8 degrees longitude and latitude) AGCMs are not adequate for forecasts of individual hurricanes, they can have significant skill in predicting the amount of tropical cyclone activity over specific basins, as is the case for the ECHAM4.5 over the North Atlantic. Model tropical cyclones are weaker and larger than observed, but have an identifiable signature with many observed tropical cyclone characteristics. The model skill is due to the variability of the tropical cyclone activity being mainly determined by large-scale variables that affect that activity, such as sea surface temperatures and vertical wind shear, which can be predicted using AGCMs. The temporal distribution of these model tropical cyclones in the North Atlantic is similar to that of observed tropical cyclones in the region. The amount tropical cyclone activity of both model and observations in the Atlantic is strongly influenced by ENSO.
The IRI May 2011 hurricane activity forecast is roughly in agreement
with the Tropical
Storm Risk June 2011 statistical forecasts of Atlantic
hurricanes for the calendar year 2011, which calls for a slightly to
somewhat above-normal season both in the number of hurricanes and in
the ACE index. A well above-normal Atlantic tropical cyclone activity season is
also the April 2011 forecast of the
Colorado State University.
* The ACE index is calculated by summing the squares of the estimated 6-hourly maximum sustained wind speed in knots for all periods in which the tropical cyclones are either of named storm or typhoon intensity. Reference: Bell, G.D., and Coauthors, 2000: Bull. Amer. Met. Soc., 81, S1-S50 (see also http://www.cpc.noaa.gov/products/outlooks/background_information.shtml).