Will 2018 be another active season for Atlantic hurricanes?

08 May 2018

BSC and Colorado State University in association with XL Catlin launched a website to track seasonal hurricane forecasts and the evolution of hurricane activity. Seasonal Hurricane Predictions brings together forecasts from major centers that specialize in Atlantic hurricane forecasting.

The extremely active 2017 Atlantic hurricane season was one of the most devastating on record, with four hurricanes Harvey, Irma, Maria and Nate causing hundreds of deaths and damage exceeding $200 billion USD.

The 2018 Atlantic hurricane season officially starts on June 1. Given the very active season that has just occurred, many are wondering how active the 2018 season is likely to be. The initial predictions of hurricane activity for the 2018 season, as submitted by 15 academic, governmental and private organisations, can be found online on the platform Seasonal Hurricane Predictions: www.seasonalhurricanepredictions.org.

On average, the forecasts call for a slightly above-average 2018 season, with 14 tropical storms, 7 of which are expected to become hurricanes. From those seven, 3 are expected to be major hurricanes (Category 3+ on the Saffir-Simpson Scale). However, there is currently significant spread among the groups submitting predictions, with the number of predicted hurricanes ranging between 5 and 9.

This spread is mainly related to the uncertainty about the potential development of El Niño this year. El Niño is a naturally occurring phenomenon that has widespread impacts on the climate. It is characterised by warmer than normal water in the eastern Pacific equatorial regions. “One of the impacts of El Niño can be increases in upper-level winds in the Atlantic, which tear apart hurricanes as they are trying to form” says Dr. Phil Klotzbach, research scientist at the Colorado State University and part of the team behind the Seasonal Hurricane Predictions platform. While the forecast consensus for 2018 is for a slightly above-normal season, currently the eastern and central tropical Atlantic is cooler than normal and, if these conditions persist, a quieter than expected hurricane season could be favoured.

The Seasonal Hurricane Predictions platform has now been running for 3 years and includes hurricane forecasts from 24 different organizations. It was named ‘Site of the day’ in www.designnominees.com and nominated to the Lloyd’s Market Innovation Awards in 2016. It is the result of the joint effort of the Barcelona Supercomputing Center (BSC) and Colorado State University and is sponsored by XL Catlin.

Many of these early seasonal outlooks will be updated as the peak of the Atlantic hurricane season approaches. “Historically, the Atlantic hurricane season gets much more active in August. So many groups will update their forecasts with more accurate predictions as we get closer to that date”, says Louis-Philippe Caron, research scientist at the Barcelona Supercomputing Center. These forecast updates will be displayed on the website as soon as they are made publicly available.

About Colorado State University
Colorado State University is a public research university located in Fort Collins, Colorado. The Tropical Meteorology Project, founded by the late Dr William Gray, in the Department of Atmospheric Science at CSU, pioneered seasonal hurricane predictions for the Atlantic basin. CSU began issuing predictions in 1984 and has issued annual predictions continuously since that time.

About XL Catlin
XL Catlin is the global brand used by XL Group Ltd’s (NYSE:XL) insurance and reinsurance companies which provide property, casualty, professional and specialty products to industrial, commercial and professional firms, insurance companies and other enterprises throughout the world. Clients look to XL Catlin for answers to their most complex risks and to help move their world forward. To learn more, visit xlcatlin.com.