The IRI Typhoon Activity Forecasts
June 2003 IRI Typhoon Activity Forecast
There is a slightly enhanced probability (approximately 40%) that the number of named tropical cyclones in the western North Pacific during the 2003 peak season (July to October) will be in the normal category, and also a 40% that the number of cyclones will be in the above normal category. The normal category is defined as between 17 and 20 named tropical cyclones. These probabilities are slightly greater than the long-term average probability of 33%. The accumulated cyclone energy (ACE*) index during these months also has an enhanced (approximately 45%) probability of being in the above normal range. Furthermore, a slight shift in the average longitude (westward) and latitude (nortward) of tropical cyclone tracks is predicted. This forecast is consistent with the possible onset of La Niņa sea surface temperature anomalies that could develop, with a region of above normal SST in the central and western North Pacific. Normally, La Niņa conditions would result in below normal SSTs in both the eastern and central tropical Pacific. Our SST forecast, however limits the below normal SST to east of the date line.
The mean number of observed western Pacific named tropical cyclones (1971-2002) in the peak season is 18.4 with a standard deviation of 3.4. The lowest number of tropical cyclones in the peak season during this historical period was 13 and the maximum was 28. If the peak season climatological median ACE in the period 1971-2002 is defined as 100%, the normal range varies between 89% and 118%. The standard deviation of the ACE index is 40%, but in extreme years the index can exceed 200% or be less than 50%. The variability in the ACE index is historically 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 western North Pacific typhoon-like systems in one of our operational atmospheric general circulation models (AGCMs), ECHAM4.5, forced with IRI's predicted sea surface temperatures (http://iri.columbia.edu/forecast/sst). While low-resolution (approximately 2.8 degrees longitude and latitude) AGCMs are not adequate for forecasts of individual typhoons, they can have significant skill in predicting the amount and location of tropical cyclone activity over specific basins, as is the case for the ECHAM4.5 over the western North Pacific. 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 spatial and temporal distributions of these model tropical cyclones in the western North Pacific are similar to those of observed tropical cyclones in the region. The average tracks and genesis locations of both model and observed western North Pacific tropical cyclones are also strongly influenced by ENSO and have an important impact on the percentage of tropical cyclones which make landfall. In El Niņo years there usually is an east-southeast shift on the average track and genesis position, while in La Niņa years a west-northwest shift usually occurs.
The IRI June 2003 typhoon activity forecast is somewhat different from, but not at odds with both the the City University of Hong Kong June 2003 statistical forecast and the Tropical Storm Risk June 2003 statistical forecasts of western North Pacific tropical cyclones for the calendar year 2003. Their forecasts called respectively for near-normal and slightly below normal number of named tropical cyclones forecast, and the latter included a slightly below normal ACE forecast.
* 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.Previous IRI Typhoon Activity Forecasts