Atlantic Hurricane Season 2012 + in Perspective
Well, here it is! This is my "official prediction" for this hurricane season. Well, not really an "official prediction," but more of a speculation based on climatology. I am in no way an expert or even a novice in predicting this sort of thing, but I am doing it this year just for kicks.
So, here are the main points.
1) The overall consensus for this years activity as far as professional meteorologists go is that this will be an average to slightly below average year due to a possibly developing El Nino.
2) It has been seven years since the U.S. has been hit by a major hurricane (Wilma)
3) Florida has not been hit by any strength hurricane in seven years either (since Wilma)
So, for my prediction of this year's cyclone activity, I think that this will be an average year with about 10-11 named storms, 6 hurricane, and 2 intense hurricanes. We have already had one storm form, which will help add to the count. We could get a fair amount of storms before the full effects of El Nino (if it does occur) swing in. Even if El Nino does occur, I have a feeling that it won't be as inhibiting as the El Nino year of 2009. I would not expect this year to be extremely quiet.
Now, for U.S. impacts. Despite the predictions of a not very active hurricane season, I think parts of the U.S. (mainly Florida) have the same or even higher chance of being struck by a hurricane as in the past few years (which were active). The main reason for this is climatology. For Florida especially, it's simple. The longer you go without having a hurricane strike, the more of a chance you have of getting hit in a season. Even the tropical storm activity in Florida the past seven years hasn't been overly impressive.
I have come up with a sequence of numbers that show the lull between hurricane strikes in Florida starting in 1950.
1950-3, 3, 4, 4, 1, 1, 2, 4, 3, 4, 6, 7, 3, 3, 1, 5, 1, 7?-2012
This clearly shows that from 1950 till now, the longest Florida has gone without being hit by a hurricane is seven years. This period even incluldes the lull of activity around the 80's. These numbers definitely put Florida at a higher risk this year, regardless of an El Nino (quiet or "just average" season). Nowadays everyone pulls out the infamous example of Hurricane Andrew (category 5 strike to South Florida and very damaging) and what a piddly year 1992 was for cyclone activity. (1992 season chart below)
The bottom line here is that it just takes one. Other examples of this include 1960 (Donna with only 6 named storms), 1965 (Betsy with only 5 named storms), 1968 (Gladys with only 7 named storms), 1972 (Agnes with only 7 named storms and only 3 hurricanes), and 1975 (Eloise with only 8 named storms). Many of these hurricanes I just mentioned caused significant damage to Florida while the overall year was very inactive. And just think, the past 5 hurricane seasons (except 2009) have been very active with more than 15 storms for those years, and one year (2010) with over twenty! And yet, there were no hurricanes in Florida at all during these years!
So, overall, I think that this will be about an average year for cyclone activity, with a normal or above normal chance of Florida getting hit with a hurricane. (Places like the Texas and Louisiana Gulf Coast have been hit a lot in the past several years, and there has also been noticeable activity on the East Coast (Earl and Irene)). Also, the last several hurricane seasons have seen a great number of fish storms, which increases the chances of this year having more land impacts as well.
So this is why I think that this year will have a greater chance of seeing a hurricane strike
(to Florida mainly). I would also definitely not be suprised if Florida is hit by a major hurricane, as the U.S. as a whole has not been hit by a major hurricane in seven years.
(Above: picture of Hurricane Andrew approaching Florida)