Early Forecast Shows Potential for Above-Average Hurricane Season

Early forecast shows potential for above-average hurricane season
Past year saw plenty of storm activity; businesses need to prepare for severe 2017 weather  

FORT WORTH, Texas (Jan. 23, 2017) – Hurricane season is still months away, but forecast groups are advising businesses along the U.S. East and Gulf coasts to make preparations now for what could potentially be an active season. Last year brought 15 named storms to the Atlantic, including the first hurricane in January since 1955.

Fort Worth, Texas-based Interstate Restoration, a North American leader in commercial disaster recovery efforts, has again joined with The Tropical Meteorology Project (TMP) at Colorado State University and CSU research scientist Dr. Phil Klotzbach to highlight predictions for the 2017 Atlantic hurricane season, which begins June 1 and continues through November. Dr. Klotzbach and his CSU team called for a 60% chance of an above-normal hurricane season in an early forecast released in December. Detailed information is available from Interstate Restoration in both English and Spanish.

“The U.S. has been fortunate over the past decade,” Dr. Klotzbach said, noting that while 2016 saw above-average activity, the U.S. was fortunate that Hurricane Matthew in October did not make landfall as a major hurricane in Florida. Major hurricanes are those classified as reaching either Category 3, 4 or 5 strength, with sustained winds of at least 111 miles per hour. Matthew weakened considerably before making landfall in South Carolina. However, the storm still brought torrential rains and widespread flooding to many areas along the U.S. East Coast. Matthew was the first Category 5 storm in the Atlantic since Hurricane Felix in 2007.

More than 1,600 deaths were attributed to Matthew, including 49 in the U.S., making it the deadliest Atlantic hurricane since Hurricane Stan in 2005. The effects of Stan caused more than 1,600 fatalities in Mexico and Central America. The 2005 season remains the most active in recorded U.S. history, with a record 15 hurricanes – including the devastating Hurricane Katrina – and a record 28 tropical or subtropical storms. Katrina remains the most-costly storm to hit the U.S., with insured damage costs of more than $41 billion at the time it occurred according to the Insurance Information Institute.

“Our hurricane forecast is designed as an informational tool,” Dr. Klotzbach said. “While we talk about the potential for storms in the Atlantic Ocean, it only takes one storm making landfall nearby to make a difference for you. Major storms get the most attention, but there has been significant damage caused by storms not classified as major, such as Hurricane Sandy in 2012.” The Insurance Information Institute estimates Sandy caused nearly $19 billion in damage.

Dr. Klotzbach and his team will issue their first formal 2017 hurricane forecast in April, but they already have evaluated several scenarios in a discussion released in December of last year. The TMP gives about a 60% chance of an above-normal hurricane season, with 12 or more named storms and two or three major hurricanes. It forecasts about a 30% chance of a near-normal season, with 8 to 11 named storms and one or two major hurricanes. The group said there is about a 10% chance of a below-average season, with 5 to 7 named storms and zero or just one major hurricane.

Dr. Klotzbach noted that financial losses from hurricanes and tropical storms continue to rise even absent major storms; today there is more property in harm’s way. “Most analysts think the storm that hit downtown Miami in 1926 (a Category 4 hurricane) would cause $75 billion to $100 billion in insured damage if it were to make landfall today,” he said.

Interstate Restoration understands the importance of preparing for disasters, which is why it has joined with Dr. Klotzbach for the past several years to give businesses the latest and best information in preparation for the hurricane and tropical storm season. Interstate’s experience in natural disaster recovery and restoration includes management of many projects after major U.S. storms, including during the recent severe flooding in Louisiana in August 2016 and Hurricane Matthew in October 2016.

Recordings of Dr. Klotzbach’s previous hurricane forecasts are archived here, along with other web clinics sponsored by Interstate Restoration.

About Dr. Klotzbach

Dr. Phil Klotzbach is a research scientist with the Department of Atmospheric Science at Colorado State University in Fort Collins, Colorado. He received his Ph.D. in Atmospheric Science from CSU in 2007 and has worked in the school’s Department of Atmospheric Science for the past 16 years. He has been co-author of Atlantic Basin hurricane forecasts with the late Dr. William Gray, a pioneer in hurricane forecasting who passed away in April of last year. Dr. Klotzbach began authoring seasonal hurricane forecasts in 2006. He developed the two-week forecasts currently issued during peak months (August to October) of the hurricane season and has recently redesigned the statistical models utilized by the TMP to compile its forecasts.