2006 hurricane season forecast; severe weather outbreak update

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 1:56 PM GMT on April 04, 2006

Share this Blog
0
+

Today marked the release of Dr. Bill Gray's latest 2006 Atlantic hurricane season forecast, and it looks like we are in for another long and busy hurricane season. The team from Colorado State University (CSU), led by Dr. Bill Gray and Philip Klotzbach, predict 17 named storms (average is 9.6), 9 hurricanes (6 is average), and 5 intense hurricanes (average is 2.3). The net activity for the season is expected to be 95% higher than normal. The entire Caribbean and U.S. coast is at above-normal risk for a strike by a major hurricane, with the U.S. East Coast (including the Florida Peninsula) at 64% risk, and the Gulf Coast at 47% risk. There is an 81% chance that at least one major hurricane will strike the U.S. coast. However, it is statistically unlikely that this coming season will have as many major hurricane U.S. landfall events as we saw in 2004-2005.

The forecasters cite three main reasons to expect a very busy season:

1) While the Atlantic Ocean is cooler than it was at this time last year, sea surface temperatures remain warmer than average, and are expected to be warmer than average during the August-October peak of hurricane season.

2) Neutral or weak La Ni�a conditions are likely to be present during August-October 2006. A weak to moderate La Ni�a event is now occurring, with trade winds in the central Pacific anomalously strong and oceanic heat content in the tropical Pacific well below normal. These features will likely keep Eastern Pacific waters from becoming anomalously warm over the next few months and ending the La Ni�a event. In addition, most forecast models call for either neutral or La Ni�a conditions to persist for the next 4-6 months. When the tropical Atlantic is warm, and neutral or La Ni�a conditions are present, Atlantic basin hurricane activity is greatly enhanced.

3) We continue to be in the positive phase of the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation (AMO), the decades-long cycle of natural hurricane activity.

Accuracy of last year's April forecast
How did last year's early April hurricane forecast verify? The CSU team did forecast an above-normal year, but did not foresee the extraordinary season that would ultimately unfold. They forecasted 13 named storms (average is 9.6), 7 hurricanes (6 is average), and 3 major hurricanes (2.3 is average. In reality, there were 27 named storms, 14 hurricanes, and 7 major hurricanes. However, they did mention that a continued Atlantic Ocean warming would cause them to raise their forecast numbers for their May 31 and August 5 forecasts, which is what happened.

With this forecast, Dr. Gray hands over leadership of the forecast team to Phil Klotzbach. While Gray, 76, is at the older end of the spectrum of hurricane scientists, Klotzbach, 26, is definitely at the younger end. He earned his Bachelor's degree at age 18 from Bridgewater State College in Massachusetts, then picked up a Masters degree in Atmospheric Science from Colorado State University four years later. He has been a research associate working with Bill Gray since 2001. Dr. Gray will continue to be very involved in working on these forecasts, but prefers to concentrate on researching the connection between hurricane activity and global warming. He is a vocal opponent of theories connecting recent increases in intense hurricane activity with global warming.

Severe weather outbreak of April 2-3
At least 60 tornadoes ripped through Missouri, Arkansas, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, and Tennessee Sunday, killing 28 people. Hardest hit was northwest Tennessee, where tornadoes claimed at least 12 lives in Dyer County. A preliminary damage survey by the NWS rated this tornado a strong F3, with winds of 200 mph. The tornado that devastated Marmaduke, Arkansas, was also a strong F3, and may have ranked as a violent F4 tornado (207-260 mph winds) on the Fujita scale. More damage surveys are being performed today to determine the exact strength of this tornado. Many other tornadoes from this outbreak also ranked as F3, and the April 2 tornado outbreak may match the March 13 outbreak for number of strong tornadoes. The March 13 outbreak had 11 strong F3 tornadoes among the 84 that touched down.

The last time we had two major tornado outbreaks killing 12 or more people was in 1998. With the peak of tornado season still a month away, we have the potential for the nastiest tornado season seen in a long time--to go along with what could also be a very long and deadly hurricane season.

Jeff Masters

Hailstones (pslice)
These are two of the hailstones that hit north central Arkansas from a quickly developed thunderstorm that went through Arkansas then through Tennessee causing more damage as it moved eastward
Hailstones
Prelude to April Showers (DaddyTo9)
Just about ready to cut loose with the season's first major thunderstorm!!
Prelude to April Showers

Reader Comments

Comments will take a few seconds to appear.

Post Your Comments

Please sign in to post comments.

or Join

Not only will you be able to leave comments on this blog, but you'll also have the ability to upload and share your photos in our Wunder Photos section.

Display: 0, 50, 100, 200 Sort: Newest First - Order Posted

Viewing: 39 - 1

Page: 1 | 2 — Blog Index

39. gippgig
9:45 PM GMT on April 04, 2006
Cindy was upgraded to a hurricane so there were actually 15 hurricanes in 2005.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
38. louastu
9:37 PM GMT on April 04, 2006
Also, Emily did not take the same kind of path that Ivan and Dennis took, as it did not make the turn to the North.
37. louastu
9:19 PM GMT on April 04, 2006
Dennis formed very close to the Windward Islands, and Emily, I believe, formed about midway between the Cape Verde Islands, and the Lesser Antilles.
36. Cregnebaa
4:09 PM EST on April 04, 2006
Weren't Emily and Dennis Cape Verdes, I remember as both had similars paths to 2004 Ivan?
Member Since: October 19, 2005 Posts: 6 Comments: 322
35. Randyman
9:10 PM GMT on April 04, 2006
Special Weather Statement
SPECIAL WEATHER STATEMENT
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE NEW ORLEANS LA
800 AM CDT TUE APR 4 2006


...A DRY START TO 2006 AND THE ONSET OF A DROUGHT FOR SOUTHEAST
LOUISIANA AND COASTAL MISSISSIPPI...

THE FIRST THREE MONTHS OF 2006 HAVE COMBINED TO SET A RECORD FOR
LOWEST RAINFALL AT BATON ROUGE AND NEW ORLEANS. THIS COMPARES TO THE
VERY DRY STARTS OF 2000 AND 1962.

AT BATON ROUGE SINCE JANUARY 1ST THROUGH APRIL 3RD...ONLY 6.41 INCHES
OF RAINFALL HAS BEEN MEASURED. NORMAL RAINFALL FOR THE SAME
PERIOD IS 16.89 INCHES. THIS IS A DEFICIT OF 10.48 INCHES BELOW
NORMAL. THE PREVIOUS DRIEST PERIOD WAS 2000...WHICH MEASURED 7.20
INCHES THROUGH APRIL 3RD.

AT NEW ORLEANS SINCE JANUARY 1ST THROUGH APRIL 3RD...6.74 INCHES OF
RAINFALL WAS MEASURED AND COMPARES TO A NORMAL OF 17.09 INCHES...A
DEFICIT OF 10.35 INCHES BELOW NORMAL. THE PREVIOUS DRIEST 3 MONTH
PERIOD THROUGH APRIL 3RD WAS 6.81 INCHES IN 1962. IN ADDITION...
2000 HAD 7.09 INCHES AT NEW ORLEANS FOR THE SAME PERIOD.

SINCE JANUARY 1 2005...NEW ORLEANS HAS A RAINFALL DEFICIT OF 21.49
INCHES...DESPITE BIG RAINFALL EVENTS FROM HURRICANE CINDY AND
HURRICANE KATRINA. AT BATON ROUGE...THE 15 MONTH DEFICIT FROM
JANUARY 1 2005 IS AROUND 18.76 INCHES BELOW NORMAL.

THE REASON FOR THE UNUSUALLY DRY CONDITIONS AND THE ONSET OF A
MODERATE AGRICULTURAL DROUGHT IS BELIEVED TO BE LINKED TO THE LA
NINA PHENOMENON OF THE EQUATORIAL PACIFIC OCEAN. COOLER THAN NORMAL
WATER TEMPERATURES ALONG THE EQUATOR IN THE EASTERN PACIFIC
OCEAN ALTERS THE TRACKS OF STORM SYSTEMS TO WELL NORTH OF THE GULF
STATES...THEREBY LIMITING THE OPPORTUNITIES FOR TYPICAL RAIN
EPISODES. THE CURRENT LA NINA CYCLE IS CONSIDERED TO BE WEAK.
COMPARABLE YEARS WITH SIMILAR LA NINA CONDITIONS SINCE 1950 INCLUDE
1960-1961...1984-1985...1995-1996...2001-2002. THIS YEAR IS THE
SECOND PART OF A 2005-2006 CYCLE.

AS WE APPROACH THE UPCOMING HURRICANE SEASON...SEVERAL CORRELATIONS
TO THE LA NINA AND ATLANTIC TROPICAL CYCLONE ACTIVITY WILL BE MADE.
RECENT STUDIES INDICATE THAT THE LA NINA PHASE OF THE ENSO CYCLE
IS TYPICALLY MORE ACTIVE...SLIGHTLY ABOVE NORMAL...THAN THE EL NINO
COUNTERPART OF THE ENSO CYCLE. THE COMPARABLE OR ANALOG YEARS
PREVIOUSLY MENTIONED AVERAGED 12 NAMED STORMS AND 7 HURRICANES IN THE
ATLANTIC BASIN IN THE SECOND SEASON OF THE PHASE. ON AVERAGE IN THE
GULF OF MEXICO IN ANALOG YEARS...3 NAMED STORMS AND 2 HURRICANES
TYPICALLY DEVELOP. WHILE THESE ARE STATISTICAL AVERAGES...THEY DO NOT
FULLY REVEAL WHAT KIND OF ACTIVITY CAN BE EXPECTED IN THE UPCOMING
SEASON NOR INDICATE AREAS OF HIGHER CHANCES OF LANDFALLING
HURRICANES.

HISTORICALLY...SOUTHEAST LOUISIANA AND COASTAL MISSISSIPPI HAD
SEVERAL TROPICAL STORMS AND HURRICANES OCCUR IN THE COMPARABLE YEARS.
IN 1960...HURRICANE ETHEL HIT LOUISIANA AND MISSISSIPPI. IN 1985...
HURRICANE ELENA STRUCK THE MISSISSIPPI COAST AND HURRICANE JUAN
MEANDERED OVER SOUTH LOUISIANA FOR SEVERAL DAYS. THE 1995-1996
SEASONS HAD NO LANDFALLS IN LOUISIANA OR MISSISSIPPI. IN 2001...
TROPICAL STORM ALLISON AFFECTED SOUTHEAST TEXAS...LOUISIANA AND
MISSISSIPPI. IN 2002...AN ACTIVE SEASON SAW TROPICAL STORMS BERTHA...
HANNA AND ISIDORE MAKE LANDFALL IN THE CENTRAL GULF STATES ALONG
WITH HURRICANE LILI INTO SOUTH-CENTRAL LOUISIANA. FINALLY....THE
2005 SEASON SAW 10 NAMED STORMS AND 6 HURRICANES IN THE GULF OF
MEXICO WITH HURRICANES CINDY...KATRINA AND RITA MAKING HISTORICAL
LANDFALLS ON LOUISIANA AND MISSISSIPPI SHORES.

THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE OFFICE IN SLIDELL WILL CONTINUE TO
MONITOR THE TRENDS IN THE UPCOMING MONTHS REGARDING THE DROUGHT
SITUATION. FOR MORE INFORMATION REGARDING THE NATION`S DROUGHT
CONDITIONS...VISIT THE NATIONAL DROUGHT MONITOR WEBSITE AT
HTTP://WWW.DROUGHT.UNL.EDU/DM/DRMON.GIF (ALL LOWER CASE). FOR
ADDITIONAL INFORMATION ON LA NINA...VISIT THE CLIMATE PREDICTION
CENTER WEBSITE AT HTTP://WWW.CPC.NCEP.NOAA.GOV (ALL LOWER CASE) AND
THE CLIMATE DIAGNOSTIC CENTER WEBSITE AT HTTP://WWW.CDC.NOAA.GOV
(ALL LOWER CASE).

Member Since: July 26, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 222
33. DAVIDKRZW
8:18 PM GMT on April 04, 2006
my blog is update this is a good joke that they are doing on my weather come see
32. louastu
8:14 PM GMT on April 04, 2006
Hurricane Irene was the only Cape Verde storm last season. Irene reached cat-2 in the open Atlantic.

TD 19 also formed near the Cape Verde Islands, but failed to develop any further.
31. HurricaneMyles
7:52 PM GMT on April 04, 2006
If memory serves me right, the lower Mid-Atlantic, where Cape Verde hurricanes form, had quite a bit of shear from August onward. Combined with Saharan dust, any healthy looking wave that came off Africa was quickly snuffed out.
Member Since: January 12, 2006 Posts: 5 Comments: 827
30. Skyepony (Mod)
7:49 PM GMT on April 04, 2006
here's the link to Gray's forecast by county
Member Since: August 10, 2005 Posts: 156 Comments: 36034
29. allwaves
7:14 PM GMT on April 04, 2006
Yes, I tend to agree with MichaelSTL, that is, it seems there would have been even more storms. But since it was such an incredible season, I am wondering if the lack of the Cape Verde development had any significant influence on other tropical development in the Atlantic basin.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
28. louastu
7:07 PM GMT on April 04, 2006
That would have been bad. I could be wrong, but it seems reasonable to believe that "Cape Verde" hurricanes are more likely to hit the East Coast.

Imagine how much worse it could have been if even a cat-1 hurricane had hit a place like NYC.
26. allwaves
6:57 PM GMT on April 04, 2006
Regarding Dr. Master's last entry: As I was watching the tropics from mid August through the end of the season(I wasn't able to before then), I noticed that the Cape Verde areas of convection did not develop too much. I was wondering if there is a correlation between this lack of development and the huge hurricane season. I would think there would be an opposite correlation, and that if some of areas would have developed it just would have added to the # of storms.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
24. Gatorboy
6:59 PM GMT on April 04, 2006
can somebody tell me if there is a map that they predict like the chances of a certain spot getting hurricane winds?
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
22. danm
6:44 PM GMT on April 04, 2006
I've seen a quote from Dr. Gray that indicates that he not only believes that the connection between hurricane activity and global warming is suspect, he believes that the existance of human induced global warming is suspect. The quote indicates a belief that global warming is simply part of the natural variation, like the hurricane cycle.

Does anyone, in particular Dr. Masters, know if this is an accurate reflection of his opinion. The experimental support for anthropological global warming appears very convincing to me. While I'm a physicist, and not a meterologist,I do believe that we analyze data in a similar manner. So, I don't see how a first rate scientist, as Dr. Gray seems to be, can dismiss the issue so quickly.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
21. hometownhero36547
1:36 PM CDT on April 04, 2006
Good afternoon. I just joined Wunderground after months of watching the commentary unfold here. I am the director of a recovery/response organization that was formed immediately after Hurricane Ivan in 2004 and have been working the last year and a half to make our community stronger, more prepared. We've been working the damage after Hurricane Katrina as well. I will be honest, the thought of another Gulf Coast strike frightens me. I have heard so many different models/ forecast for the 2006 Season. One model that trickled down to me from other agencies is that our area (NW Florida panhandle, the Alabama coast, and the Mississippi coast) have a 70% probability of a direct hit for the next year. Dr. Jeff, I trust your opinions...what do you feel?
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
20. indigenous
6:33 PM GMT on April 04, 2006
Thank you, Dr. Masters for all of your informative reports. I have been reading them for some time. It is like belonging to an online weather university. Many thanks!
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
19. sayhuh
6:03 PM GMT on April 04, 2006
I think the Thurs piece is more the warm front interaction, and Fri the dry line/cold front piece..dunno. Seems ya'll get hammered about 8 hrs after we do as well...we shall see. I have been fortunate so far, only having a bit of minor damage with all the storms so far...I missed the large hail, tornados, and only have gotten some 50-60MPH wind and pea/marble size hail thus far.
17. sayhuh
5:40 PM GMT on April 04, 2006
Michael, yes..sorry..my bias was to KC to where I live..I would expect it to be a bit later for you folks in STL.
15. fredwx
12:26 PM EST on April 04, 2006
The report offers the "best analog years for 2006" as 1964, 1996, 1999 and 2003. You may notice that more storms seem to have theatened the US East Coast vs. the Gulf Coast.

Track Charts from wunderground.com
1964

1996

1999

2003
Member Since: June 8, 2005 Posts: 221 Comments: 261
13. sayhuh
5:27 PM GMT on April 04, 2006
I will be watching for the next outbreak on Thurs across the midwest...the NAM looks pretty active. YIKES
12. JeffMasters (Admin)
12:49 PM EDT on April 04, 2006

Posted By: RL3AO (206.131.9.10) at 11:26 AM EDT on April 04, 2006.
so, was that F3 tornado the one that Dr. M was talking about possibly being an F5, or was that one not rated yet?


That tornado was rated as a strong F3. There were no F5 tornadoes in the outbreak.

Jeff Masters
11. HurricaneMyles
3:41 PM GMT on April 04, 2006
Nothing must have changed to make him more confident in anothr number.

To come up with an excact number is pretty difficult, imo. Local changes in weather can effect whether a storm developes or not, and I dont think long term prediction of those changes are very good, or even possible. I look at these early season forecasts as nothing more then crap shoots.

Look at 2005's forecast -
NOAAs 2005 Atlantic hurricane season outlook calls for 12-15 tropical storms, with 7-9 becoming hurricanes, and 3-5 of these becoming major hurricanes.
Member Since: January 12, 2006 Posts: 5 Comments: 827
9. HurricaneMyles
3:27 PM GMT on April 04, 2006
It was certainly said of 2005 after 04. But thats why they say its 'statistically' unlikely. Nature couldnt care less about statistics and what they predict. If it's going to be an active season, it will be active regardless of what happened last season.
Member Since: January 12, 2006 Posts: 5 Comments: 827
8. OGal
11:32 AM EDT on April 04, 2006
OK FLORIDIANS, HUNKER DOWN FROM JUNE 1, 2006 UNTIL FEBRUARY 1, 2007! Has Dr. Gray ever come down to witness one of Florida's hurricane seasons? This is too scary!!

Curio: You don't know what you are wishing for. Don't even think hurricane!
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
7. observer12
3:24 PM GMT on April 04, 2006
"It is statistically unlikely that this coming season will have as many major hurricane U.S. landfall events as we saw in 2004-2005."

I bet that's what they said about each of the last couple years before they even happened! :O
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
6. RL3AO
3:24 PM GMT on April 04, 2006
so, was that F3 tornado the one that Dr. M was talking about possibly being an F5, or was that one not rated yet?
5. rankamateur42
2:57 PM GMT on April 04, 2006
Hurricane Beta report's just been released. That's all of 'em...
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
4. Curiositykt
2:33 PM GMT on April 04, 2006
What is the probablity that a hurricane will strike the North Eastern Coast (NY or higher?)

We could use a good category 1 or 2 to knock down the weak trees and clean up the dying branches.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
3. Randyman
2:42 PM GMT on April 04, 2006
"He earned his Bachelor's degree at age 18 from Bridgewater State College in Massachusetts, then picked up a Masters degree in Atmospheric Science from Colorado State University four years later."

O.K. I must say that's kinda impressive...he has some pretty big shoes to fill, nevertheless...
Member Since: July 26, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 222
2. FLCrackerGirl
10:16 AM EDT on April 04, 2006
The net activity for the season is expected to be 95% higher than normal.

Ugh! Hang On Folks...
It's Going be a Wild Ride!
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
1. DAVIDKRZW
7:01 AM PDT on April 04, 2006
oh boy and not long to wait for 2006 hurricane year to start

1st

dr M where are you at and how was the sever weather for you

Viewing: 39 - 1

Page: 1 | 2 — Blog Index

Top of Page

About JeffMasters

Jeff co-founded the Weather Underground in 1995 while working on his Ph.D. He flew with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters from 1986-1990.