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CSU Hurricane Forecasting Team Releases Early 2012 Forecast

NASA Goddard Photo and Video
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Image of Hurricane Katrina

Colorado State University’s hurricane forecasting team has released its early outlook for 2012, anticipating another above-average season. But for the first time in 20 years, there’s a change in the way the forecast is being presented.

In past years, the CSU team has issued forecasts predicting the number of major storms. But because there’s so much uncertainty six months out, they’re changing their approach, focusing instead on predicting the probabilities of key factors - such as tropical Atlantic Ocean temperatures - likely to influence the hurricane season.

“At this extended range of lead time, we’re better off kind of examining four different scenarios, and then trying to assign a probability to the likelihood that each of those would occur,” says Philip Klotzbach, an atmospheric research scientist at CSU and lead author of the forecast.

“We basically have these four categories. And the probability that we think the season will be similar to last year’s we have at about 45%. And then we have a 15% chance that it’ll probably be more active than last year, with a 40% chance that it’ll be less active than last year’s.”

In addition, there’s the possibility of an El Nino pattern developing, which usually reduces major storm activity.

Klotzbach says they will issue a numerical estimate a little closer to hurricane season, with their April forecast. This report marks the 29th year for the CSU hurricane forecasting team.

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