WSI Re-Affirms Forecast of 15 Named Storms, 8 Hurricanes and 4 Intense Hurricanes for 2011 Season

Weather Authority Forecasts an “Active-Normal” Season with Threat of Multiple Landfalls; Gulf States under Greatest Threat

Andover, MA, July 27, 2011Outperforming other, primary, public forecasters on named storms by 25% since 2006, WSI (Weather Services International) maintains its forecast for 15 named storms, 8 hurricanes and 4 intense hurricanes (category 3 or greater). These 2011 forecast numbers are above the long-term (1950-2010) averages of 12 named storms, 7 hurricanes, and 3 intense hurricanes and match the averages from the more active recent period (1995-2010) of 15/8/4. The current forecast numbers have not changed from the April, May or June forecasts.

“There has been no change to the 2011 tropical forecast that we first issued in April,” said WSI Chief Meteorologist Dr. Todd Crawford. “Most of the important drivers for tropical activity continue to indicate that an ‘active-normal’ season lies ahead of us, including warmer-than-normal North Atlantic water temperatures, very low surface pressures in the main development region, and no impending El Nino event. Since the most recent active tropical period began in 1995, we have averaged 15 named storms, 8 hurricanes and 4 intense hurricanes per year. Since tropical Atlantic sea surface temperatures are quite close to the 1995-2010 mean values, and since we do not expect either an El Nino or La Nina to develop this summer, our statistical model has output forecast numbers that exactly match those for the current active period, or ‘active-normal’ numbers. We do expect another active season in 2011, although not to the level of 2005 or 2010. However, while we expect less overall activity this year than last, we do expect a much more impactful season along the US coastline. The US has been spared from any landfalling hurricanes since 2008, and the hurricane drought in 2009 and 2010 is relatively rare in the historical record. In fact, the US has not had a three-year stretch without a hurricane landfall since the 1860s. Further, 80 percent of all years in the historical dataset have had at least one hurricane landfall in the US. Our recent good fortune in avoiding landfalling hurricanes is not likely to last.”

Crawford also indicated that the Gulf Coast was under a significant threat for hurricane landfall in the upcoming season.

“The lack of US landfalls in 2010 was primarily due to a persistent western Atlantic trough that essentially protected the US East Coast from any direct hits. We do not expect this feature to be in place this year during late summer and fall when most tropical storms occur. While we cannot explicitly state exactly where or when a hurricane might make landfall, our model does have some skill in distinguishing which coastal regions may be more favored than others. For the upcoming season, our hurricane landfall prediction model suggests increased chances (relative to normal) of US landfall in 2011, especially in the western Gulf States. This is not particularly unusual, since historically 43 percent of years have had multiple hurricane landfalls and the mean number of US landfalls since 1995 has been 2.26. Further, the western Gulf States have averaged 0.94 landfalls a season since 1995. The forecast numbers from our model are quite similar to those prior to the 2008 season, when Hurricanes Dolly, Gustav and Ike impacted Louisiana and Texas. As always, it is important for those in all US coastal areas to prepare for the upcoming hurricane season and not to let our guards down after the lack of landfalls the past couple of years.”

Energy traders, insurance professionals and risk managers look to WSI for accurate, timely weather information around the clock and across the globe. The next seasonal forecast update, which will include forecasts for summer temperatures, will be issued on August 23. The next update for the 2011 tropical season will be released on August 24.

About WSI
WSI (Weather Services International) is the world's leading provider of weather-driven business solutions for professionals in the energy, insurance, aviation and media markets, as well as multiple federal and state government agencies. WSI is a member of The Weather Channel Companies and is headquartered in Andover, Massachusetts with offices in Birmingham, England. The Weather Channel Companies are owned by a consortium made up of NBC Universal and the private equity firms The Blackstone Group and Bain Capital.

Contact:
Linda Maynard
WSI Corporation
(978) 983-6715
lmaynard@wsi.com

Editorial Contact:
Barbara Rudolph
Rudolph Communications, LLC
(781) 229-1811
bjr@rudolphcommunications.com