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As If We Needed More Good News, Hurricane Season Could Be Busy

Storm of 1900 statue on the Galveston Seawall after Hurricane Ike hit in 2008.
Storm of 1900 statue on the Galveston Seawall after Hurricane Ike hit in 2008.
Photo by Jeff Balke
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If 2020 couldn't get any weirder, the team at Colorado State University, known as the foremost hurricane forecasters in meteorology, came out with their seasonal forecast calling for an above average hurricaneseason  this year. Joy.

The CSU team uses statistical modeling and historical information to generate a very early season estimate of the number and relative strength of hurricanes. This year, they are calling for 16 named storms and eight hurricanes with four of those becoming major hurricanes. Since the early 1990s, we have been in a cycle that typically runs between 30 and 40 years of increased hurricane activity. During that time, the typical year averages 12-13 named storms. By comparison, 2019 had 18 named storms and six hurricanes with three of those reaching major hurricane strength.

The forecast included probabilities of strike locations throughout the basin. All those numbers are higher this season with Florida at a 68 percent chance of a tropical storm landfall, Texas at 45 percent and Louisiana at 44. It's no surprise those states have the highest probabilities considering the length of their coastlines compared to other Gulf Coast and Atlantic states.

One other interesting prediction is the seasonal comparison. Looking at climatology, past seasons are compared to 2020. One recent season Houstonians might take note of is 2008, the year Hurricane Ike swept across Bolivar Peninsula and through the Houston area causing more than $1 billion in damage.

These are, of course, very early forecasts, subject to change before the official start on June 1. And even then, Houston is unlikely to see any significant tropical weather before July at the earliest. The statistical peak of hurricane season is in the second week of September. And while the full season runs from June 1 through November 30, for all practical purposes, the majority of the concern for hurricanes in Houston runs from the end of July through the third week in September.

Still, it's always a good idea to be prepared. Sure, you can't really stock up on anything at the moment given the quarantine, but hopefully our continued social distancing will help us stave off a massive outbreak and get us out of our houses before we get to the heart of hurricane season. God knows, the last thing we need is a natural disaster on top of a pandemic. But, hey, at least you have something to worry about besides COVID-19. Your welcome!

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