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How good are hurricane forecasters?

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I just came across this article about the Colorado State University hurricane team predicting 15 tropical storms with 8 of those becoming hurricanes for the 2008 season. It mentioned that some of their predictions had been a little off, but I was curious for a little more information. So I headed over to the forecast page for the team and found that they helpfully provided a very detailed analysis.

To check their results for accuracy, I am going to use their predictions from around June 1st of each year since that is the first day of hurricane season. Anyway, here are the results:

Named Storms:

  • 2000: 12 predicted, 14 actual
  • 2001: 12 predicted, 14 actual
  • 2002: 11 predicted, 12 actual
  • 2003: 14 predicted, 14 actual
  • 2004: 14 predicted, 14 actual
  • 2005: 15 predicted, 23 actual
  • 2006: 17 predicted, 9 actual
  • 2007: 17 predicted, 14 actual

Hurricanes:

  • 2000: 8 predicted, 8 actual
  • 2001: 7 predicted, 8 actual
  • 2002: 6 predicted, 4 actual
  • 2003: 8 predicted, 7 actual
  • 2004: 8 predicted, 8 actual
  • 2005: 8 predicted, 13 actual
  • 2006: 9 predicted, 5 actual
  • 2007: 9 predicted, 6 actual

So how did they do? Ok, I guess. From 2000 to 2004, they absolutely nailed it but then they completely fell apart. 2005 and 2006 are off by margins of 50% and 2007 is pretty shaky. I’m torn on if it is worthwhile to give publicity to these predictions. They can clearly be wildly off, but they do raise hurricane awareness right before the season starts.

I can conclusively say, however, that the members of the hurricane team desperately need makeovers. Believe it or not, the picture below is from the year 2000. Guys, get out of the lab every now and then.

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Written by Scott

April 9, 2008 at 4:32 pm

Posted in News, Science

Tagged with , , ,

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