December 2, 2010
By Thomas A. Horne
Hurricanes are notoriously difficult to predict, but this year Weather Services International (WSI) made it look easy. As the 2010 hurricane season officially ended on Nov. 30, WSI announced a near-perfect tropical forecast record. Earlier this year, in May, WSI predicted a total of 18 named tropical storms, 10 hurricanes, and five major hurricanes. As it turned out, there were 19 named tropical storms, 10 hurricanes, and five major hurricanes.
The 2010 numbers were well above both the long-term (1950 to 2009) averages of 10 named storms, six hurricanes, and two intense hurricanes, and the more active, recent 15-year period (1995 to 2009) average of 14/8/4.
“After a relatively slow start, the 2010 tropical season ended with a bang, validating our rather extreme forecasts,” said Dr. Todd Crawford, WSI’s chief meteorologist. “A combination of incredibly warm tropical Atlantic sea surface temperatures along with relatively light wind shear because of a rapidly developing La Nina event enabled this very active season. The lack of hurricane landfalls in the United States was because of a combination of good fortune and an unusually persistent pattern in the North Atlantic, which consistently helped to steer hurricanes away from the eastern U.S. coast.”
WSI’s first look at the 2011 tropical season will be issued on Dec. 22.
AOPA Pilot Editor at Large Tom Horne has worked at AOPA since the early 1980s. He began flying in 1975 and has an airline transport pilot and flight instructor certificates. He’s flown everything from ultralights to Gulfstreams and ferried numerous piston airplanes across the Atlantic.
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