HUGO team forecasts more active hurricane season

Hurricane Rita, 2005 (NOAA)

The Hurricane Genesis & Outlook (HUGO) Project at Coastal Carolina University anticipates a more active hurricane season in 2016 than last year, calling for a “near to above normal” season, according to its extended range forecast for the North Atlantic calculated in mid-April.

The HUGO outlook predicts that there will be a range of 11 to 15 (with 13 most likely) named tropical storms, with from 6 to 10 (with 7 most likely) becoming hurricanes and two to five (with three most likely) becoming major hurricanes during the 2016 season (June 1 – Nov. 30).

“The scenario for landfalls is more complicated than in the last two years,” says Len Pietrafresa, research professor in CCU’s School of Coastal and Marine Systems Science (SCMSS) and leader of the HUGO team. “The most important climate factors that determine the most likely pathways of the hurricanes appear to be changing rather rapidly at this point in time.” Updated outlooks will be released monthly during the hurricane season in June, July and August as more observational climate data become available.

The most probable scenario for landfalls, according to the April study, is that no hurricanes will make landfall on the U.S. East Coast and that one hurricane will make landfall on the U.S. Gulf Coast during the 2016 season. The second most likely scenario is that one hurricane will make landfall on the East Coast and that two hurricanes will make landfall on the Gulf Coast. The third most likely possibility is that two hurricanes will make landfall on the East Coast and no hurricanes will make landfall on the Gulf Coast.

Last year’s HUGO outlook forecast of a “below normal” season was highly accurate. The 2015 outlook correctly forecast a most likely scenario that no hurricanes would make landfall on either the East or Gulf coasts. Last year’s outlook also accurately forecast the number of hurricanes at four.

— Coastal Carolina University 

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