ROANOKE, Va. – It may surprise you, but the Atlantic hurricane season outlook from Colorado State University is highly sought out by many in the meteorological community. Dr. William Gray, who passed away in April of 2016, was one of the first researchers to make a connection between the El Niño Southern Oscillation and hurricane activity in the Atlantic Basin.
Since the mid-1980s, Gray and a team of researchers at Colorado State University, have issued outlooks for the upcoming season. Since the mid-2000s, this project has been taken over by Philip Klotzbach.
Last April, they called for 14 named storms, 7 hurricanes and 3 major hurricanes (Category 3 or higher). There were 15 named storms, 8 hurricanes and 2 major hurricanes in the Atlantic Basin in 2018.
This year, the forecasters at Colorado State are calling for a near-average season, as far as the number of systems. 13 named storms, 5 hurricanes, and 2 major hurricanes are currently forecast.
They cite the ongoing weak El Niño, which tends to favor more wind shear (bad for tropical systems). They've also referred to the fact that ocean temperatures across the North Atlantic and tropical Atlantic are running cooler.
Since 1995, the average error of their April outlook for named storms is 2 and the average error for hurricanes per season is 0.7. Needless to say, their forecasts tend to come with a fair amount of accuracy.
For those interested, here are the names for the 2019 season.
We typically see North Carolina State University follow suit in mid-April and NOAA in May. As we saw in 2018, we aren't immune to tropical systems. Be sure to stay up to date on these forecasts and more on our website.