Researchers at North Carolina State University believe that hurricane activity will be above normal in the Atlantic basin in 2011.
According to Dr. Lian Xie, professor of marine, earth and atmospheric sciences, and collaborators Dr. Montserrat Fuentes, professor of statistics, and graduate student Morgan Lennon, 2011 should see 13 to 16 named storms forming in the Atlantic basin, which includes the entire Atlantic Ocean, the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea. This number is significantly higher than the (1955-2000) 50-year average of 9.6 named storms, but less than last year’s total of 19.
Of those named storms, seven to nine may grow strong enough to become hurricanes, and there is a 70 percent chance that one of those storms will make landfall along the coast of the southeastern United States, and a 40 percent chance that the landfalling storm will arrive as a hurricane. There is a 15 percent chance that the storm will be classified as a major – category 3 or above – hurricane.
As for the Gulf, Xie’s data indicate the likelihood of three to five named storms forming, of which one to three will become hurricanes. The researchers expect two to four of the named storms to make landfall along the Gulf, and there is a 72 percent chance that at least one of those storms will be of hurricane status. In addition, there is a 45 percent chance that one major hurricane will hit the U.S. Gulf Coast.
Xie’s methodology evaluates data from the last 100 years on Atlantic Ocean hurricane positions and intensity, as well as other variables including weather patterns and sea surface temperatures, in order to predict how many storms will form and where they will make landfall.
The Atlantic hurricane season runs from June 1 through Nov. 30.
For more details concerning Xie’s methodology, input data and predictions, visit the research group’s website at: http://cfdl.meas.ncsu.edu/research/TCoutlook_2011.html
The Department of Marine, Earth and Atmospheric Sciences is part of NC State’s College of Physical and Mathematical Sciences.