1 9 8 4 rank = 0.75 August Seasonal Forecast Observed r 0 5 10 15 20 25 30 1 9 8 6 1 9 8 8 1 9 9 0 1 9 9 2 1 9 9 4 1 9 9 6 1 9 9 8 2 0 0 0 2 0 0 2 2 0 0 4 2 0 0 6 2 0 0 8 2 0 1 0 2 0 1 2 2 0 1 4 2 0 1 6 MISSION: WATER 22 HEADLINE HURRICANE ZONE There's always inherent curiosity amongst the general public. It's the same reason people want to know who's going to win the presidential election or the Super Bowl. Q: To clarify – do you forecast both the number and intensity of hurricanes in a given year? Phil: We predict the number of tropical storms and hurricanes each year, and also the number of major hurricanes, ranked Category 3 and higher. Those are storms with winds of 111 miles per hour or greater. Q: What kinds of data go into your predictive models and how do you gather information? Phil: The modeling has changed over time. Dr. Gray started this research in the early 1980s. In the beginning he literally called people to pull individual weather station data; barometric pressure from stations in the Caribbean and water temperature measurements from individual buoys. Whereas today, there are globally gridded data available from satellites, data buoys, and ships that are much easier to attain. I use data sets produced by NOAA, NASA, and the UK Met Office which are available in virtually real-time. There is so much more data available now than there was 30 or 40 years ago. We have it easy today! Q: Once you’ve built your models and given predictions for an upcoming hurricane season, where does that information go, and how is it used by others around the world? Phil: When we put out the seasonal forecasts, I post them on our website and advertise them on social media. We also send out a press release through CSU that goes to various news outlets. In terms of how people use [the forecasts], we always frame them as an informational tool. People are curious. There's always inherent curiosity amongst the general public. It's the same reason people want to know who's going to win the presidential election or the Super Bowl. However, we've documented real-time forecast skill in over 35 years - which is a lot more than can be said for pre-season picks of who is going to win the Super Bowl! In terms of disaster preparedness, I always stress that people need to plan for every hurricane season the same way regardless of our forecast, because it only takes one hurricane to turn a community upside down. Even in a year like 2017 – which was obviously a very active season with significant impact on the Houston metro area, South Florida and the Caribbean – there were other parts of the U.S. that had no impacts from hurricanes whatsoever. Outside of our primary users, there is some interest in the insurance industry as well for seasonal forecasts. But it's mostly just for interest's sake. There's not much you can do from a pricing perspective with insurance, because those rates are set months and months before a hurricane could even form. Q: Is the team at Colorado State University the only group to create forecasts each year? Phil: While CSU was the first group to do the seasonal forecast, now there are a wide variety of groups that do seasonal predictions. A colleague of mine from Barcelona and I developed a website to host all publicly available Atlantic seasonal forecasts. You can check it out at: www.bsc.es/seasonalhurricanepredictions We're up to about 20 universities, government agencies, as well as private sector weather forecasting companies submitting to it. So, it's a crowded field these days; there are a lot of groups doing seasonal forecasts. But, our group at CSU was the first one to start and we've been doing it convincingly for going on continuously for 35 years. An example of the predictive modeling prepared by Dr. Klotzbach and his team. CSU Predicted vs. Observed Atlantic Storms (1984-2017) Early August Forecast Named Storms