Breakthrough in long term Hurricane prediction

Monday 08th Nov 2010 by theWeather Club

Hurricanes are terrible things. While they look genuinely terrifying on television screens, anyone who has been caught in the path of one agrees on that the real thing is very, very different from the screen version. And not in a good way. The only thing that you can do is to batten down the hatches and hope everything is still standing when the wind dies down and the flood waters recede. The preparation is key, but until now detailed plans had to be done on a storm to storm basis. However, for the Atlantic hurricane season at least, things could be about to change.

New research, published on Nature Geoscience web site, has revealed that the Decadal Climate Prediction System (DePreSys), developed by Met Office scientists has extended successful storm activity forecasts beyond the current season. It can now make useful predictions for several years ahead.

"Being able to predict hurricane frequency well beyond the seasonal timescale represents a real step-change in capability", said Matt Huddleston, Principle Climate Consultant at the Met Office. "Tropical storms present arguably the most destructive weather on the planet. Being able to reliably predict how many storms may occur over a number of years means increased confidence in making strategic plans."

Dr. Doug Smith, Met Office specialist in decadal forecasting, said: "Our study is important for understanding the mechanisms of multi-year hurricane variability, and shows that forecasting hurricane activity beyond a single year is viable."

The results of the study will be welcomed by governments whose territory lies in the path of the Atlantic storms. While those countries won't be able to avoid an oncoming hurricane, but they now have the chance to be much better prepared when they arrive.