2010 Atlantic Hurricane Season Forecast:The year of the “Perfect Storm”?
Posted by Jessica Clempner | Archive on Friday 04 June 2010, 9:16AM
As the NOAA’s ‘Hurricane Preparedness Week’ draws to a close and the start of the Atlantic Tropical Storm and Hurricane season looms, now seems an appropriate time to reflect on the forecast for the 2010 season.
At the Insurance Day London Summit, CEO Richard Ward cautioned that the insurance industry may this year be facing a “perfect storm”, due to softening rates and low investment returns. Coupled with the number of Cats already stacked up in the first half of 2010, it is increasingly important to consider the potential impact of a hurricane season which, according to respected forecasters, may bring with it a high number of real-life, tangible, “perfect storms”.
Since the predictions made at the beginning of the year, forecasters have continued to increase their expectations for an above-average Atlantic hurricane season. Key forecasters cite a weakening El Niño event coupled with record eastern and central tropical Atlantic sea surface temperatures as driving factors.
El Niño events are characterised by a warming oceanic phase of the tropical eastern Pacific Ocean (the NOAA provides up-to-date monitoring and explanations of the El Niño and its global consequences for weather and climate). The latest publication from the WSI suggests that the El Niño has now vanished completely. Together with their prediction of Atlantic sea surface temperatures ‘even warmer than the freakishly active season of 2005’, the scene appears set for an eventful season.
To put this into perspective, the following forecasts have been made for 2010, set against a 60 year average and the relatively benign 2009 season:
GC ForeCat predicts that the Northeast region is the most vulnerable, with an anticipated mean number of landfalling tropical cyclones of 0.62, significantly above the 0.29 1951-2007 average. This is in comparison to the decrease in mean number of landfalls to 0.22 for the Southeast region and a below average 0.59 rate for the Gulf. The Florida coastline retains an above average forecast of 0.60.
Despite the Gulf’s lower expected landfall rate, the risk associated with any storm could be exacerbated by the oil spill resulting from the Deepwater Horizon rig explosion on 20th April. Dr. Jeff Masters considers the potential impact of an active hurricane season on the oil spill in his Wunderblog.
So, whilst Professor Saunders and Dr. Lea, writing for Tropical Storm Risk, predict a 77% probability that this season will bring activity in the top one third of years historically, it may be helpful to remember the words of William Arthur Ward,
“The pessimist complains about the wind, the optimist expects it to change, the realist adjusts the sails”