Hurricane Predictions Off By Wide Margin

Over the past year there were predictions about how bad hurricanes were going to get (example). That we should expect more and stronger hurricanes. One problem though, so far this hurricane season is one of the least active in decades.

So what happened? Lots.

Storms were starved for fuel after ingesting masses of dry Saharan dust and air over the Atlantic Ocean. Scientists say the storm-snuffing dust was more abundant than usual this year.

In the season’s peak, storms were curving right like errant field goals. High pressure that normally hunkers near Bermuda shifted far eastward, and five storms rode the clockwise winds away from Florida.

Finally, a rapidly growing El Nino, a warming of water over the tropical Pacific Ocean, shifted winds high in the atmosphere southward. The winds left developing storms disheveled and unable to become organized.

As they say about the stock market: Past results are no indication of future performance.

This year’s uneventful season provides no assurance that next year will be as calm:

  • The Atlantic remains in a 20- to 30-year cycle of high hurricane activity that started in 1995. Water temperatures are above normal.
  • El Nino probably won’t be around to decapitate storms.
  • There’s no promise that the Saharan dust will be as abundant.

So, it looks like it was some fortuitous events that resulted in the quiet hurricane season this year. However, the article does note that we are in a 20 to 30 year cycle of high hurricane activity. Still, a bit of good news given last years disasters.

FILED UNDER: Environment, Natural Disasters, Science & Technology
Steve Verdon
About Steve Verdon
Steve has a B.A. in Economics from the University of California, Los Angeles and attended graduate school at The George Washington University, leaving school shortly before staring work on his dissertation when his first child was born. He works in the energy industry and prior to that worked at the Bureau of Labor Statistics in the Division of Price Index and Number Research. He joined the staff at OTB in November 2004.


  1. aq says:

    New Orleans made some kind of deal with the Lucifer dead worshipping wind and quake controllers to avoid a second one.

    Next year it’s worse for the Luciferain dead worhipping New Orleanians!

  2. Steven Plunk says:

    These attempts to predict the weather are basically folly. I would even say they do more harm than good since people think we can predict the weather.

    James Gleick in his book “Chaos” points out how difficult it is to use computer models for weather prediction. Even slight errors in input can change the results enough to make the process useless.

    Whether it be hurricane predictions or global warming predictions we are being duped by publicity seeking scientists who use computer modeling to secure notoriety and perhaps even funding. “Junk Science” is not a strong enough term.

    Weather prediction should remain short term where it can do the most real good. We are wasting limited resources chasing after the ability to see the future. The massive failure of the weather “industry” on the hurricane season exposes them for what they are.

  3. geezer says:

    Dire weather predictions are still a part of the Global Warmening catechism; see anything Al Gore has said/produced on the matter. Religious fervor should be confined to the subject of religion; see anything Muslim fundamentalists have said/produced on the matter.