Wednesday, April 02, 2008

First Pitch of the Hurricane Season

The 2008 season of hurricane predictions opens this week. The first big game is now under way in Miami at the National Hurricane Conference. Phil Klotzbach and Dr. William Gray take the mound on Friday.

The first pitch wasn't tossed there, however. Instead, it was hurled into the news maw by The Weather Center, a privately-operated non-profit operation in Houston. They announced at the start of the week that they are predicting "at least 11 named storms with 6 of these tropical storms intensifying into hurricanes."

According to something they call the "Orbital Cyclone Strike Index," which they say assesses storm risks to specifically designated geographical areas, "West Florida" has a 70 percent chance of being hit this year. The Southeast states from North Carolina to Georgia have "a 90% chance of experiencing a landfall of a tropical storm or hurricane this year."

Interestingly, The Weather Center's "strike index" relies on sunspot cycles. And, no, we aren't joking. According to the Center --
The OCSI model is based on the premise that there are orbital influences that are reflected in the global circulation pattern on the sun as well as the global circulation pattern of the earth. These orbital influences are reflected in the 11.1 year sun spot cycle. During the 24-year period from 1984 to 2007, there have only been three years (1987, 1992, and 1999) when a storm or hurricane did not make landfall in the section of the United States coastline that had the highest risk. In all three of these years, cyclones made landfall in the section of the coast with the second highest risk. This gives the OCSI an 87.5% accuracy rate.
You can read the whole of the Houston-based WeatherCenter's 2008 hurricane forecast here [pdf file].

Time to get those office hurricane pools going! Which "expert" hurricane forecast will prove to be the dumbest one this year?

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