The latest Atlantic hurricane forecast continues to predict an above-average probability of a major hurricane making landfall in the Caribbean coast.
This is the forecast by Philip J. Klotzbach and William M. Gray at Colorado State University. In December, the pair estimated that the 2011 hurricane season would bring 17 named storms and five major hurricanes. This month’s estimate predicts 16 named storms but still five major hurricanes.
The pair said that there was a 61 percent probability of a major hurricane tracking into the Caribbean.
That is higher than the 42 percent probability of storms over the last century. The average of hurricanes from 1950 to 2000 is 5.9 a season.
The probability for a major hurricane hitting the U.S. coast is 72 percent they said. The average is 52 percent, they added.
They said that they reduced slightly their estimates from December due to unanticipated warming in the eastern and central tropical Pacific and cooling in the tropical Atlantic.
The forecast uses 29 years of data. Klotzbach, now a retired professor, has been making these estimates with great accuracy since 1984.
Still, the pair wrote in their newest report that everyone should realize that it is impossible to precisely predict this season’s hurricane activity in early April. The traditional Atlantic hurricane season is from June 1 to Nov. 30.
“One must remember that our forecasts are based on the premise that those global oceanic and atmospheric conditions which preceded comparatively active or inactive hurricane seasons in the past provide meaningful information about similar trends in future seasons,” the pair said. “This is not always true for individual seasons,” they added, noting that the estimates are based on statistics.
The weather experts also created a Web page that provides probabilities of storms tracking within 50 and 100 miles of Caribbean islands and Central American land masses. The estimates say that there is just a 5 percent probability that a named storm will pass within 50 miles of Costa Rica and just a 3 percent probability that one or more hurricanes will.
Nicaragua has a 43 percent chance of seeing a named storm pass within 50 miles and a 19 percent chance of having one or more hurricanes pass within 50 miles, according to the estimates. For Honduras the probability of a named storm within 50 miles is 75 percent and 27 percent for one or more hurricanes.
For Costa Rica, there is a 14 percent chance of one or more named storms passing within 100 miles and just a 7 percent chance that one or more hurricanes will, the data said.
Cuba, in the middle of hurricane alley, has a 94 percent chance of a named storm passing within 100 miles and a 72 percent chance of a hurricane doing that, said the forecast.
Gray is a well-known critic of the theory that human activity is causing global warming. His view is reflected in the report.
The report said that very active hurricane seasons in 2004, 2005, 2008 and 2010 might encourage many who do not have a strong background of hurricane information to conclude that increased carbon dioxide levels brought on higher levels of hurricane intensity.
However, the two scientists compared 55-year periods. From 1901 to 1955 there were 210 named storms and 115 hurricanes with 44 major hurricanes. From 1956 to 2010 there were 180 named storms, 87 hurricanes and 34 major ones, they reported.
“We have no plausible physical reasons for believing that Atlantic hurricane frequency or intensity will change significantly if global ocean temperatures were to continue to rise,” the pair reported.