Standing in contrast to most of the other forecasts out there, the UK-based Meteorological Office (Met Office) said it expects the 2007 Atlantic tropical storm season to bring “below normal” activity relative to the last 15 years. In its tropical storm forecast (July-to-November), Met assigned a 70% chance that the number of tropical storms will be in the range of seven to 13. The 15-year average is 12.4 storms for the period.

Great Britain’s more than 150-year-old Met Office characterizes its forecast as “the only one in the world produced using global climate models.” Met said its model provided “unparalleled accuracy and advice in trials during 2005 and 2006.

“In both these years, the Met Office forecast outperformed more-traditional methods based on historical analysis alone,” Met said.

Matt Huddleston, Met Office principal consultant, stressed that its Atlantic season predictions for 2005 picked up the exceptional activity and likewise last year, it predicted less-than-normal storm numbers.

“This marked the difference between seasons (2005 vs. 2006) was missed by a number of statistical prediction methods, which have traditionally formed the basis of most published forecasts,” Huddleston said.

In other recent forecasts, last May predicted “as many as seven storms” — of an expected 13-14 named storms — could strike the U.S. coast during the 2007 Atlantic hurricane season. Three or more of the storms are likely to be Category 3 or greater on the Saffir/Simpson scale, the forecaster said in early May (see NGI, May 14).

According to AccuWeather Chief Hurricane Forecaster Joe Bastardi, this season’s hurricanes and tropical storms will pose a “far greater threat to lives and property” than the storms seen during last year’s mild season. Bastardi said six or seven storms will strike the U.S. coast. “This includes the possibility of multiple strikes by the same storm, such as the way Hurricanes Andrew and Katrina, both extreme examples, struck Florida before later striking the U.S. Gulf Coast,” AccuWeather said.

The Colorado State University (CSU) hurricane forecast team led by Phil Klotzbach and William Gray and London-based Tropical Storm Risk (TSR) have also called for more active than normal storm activity this year. TSR is forecasting that 2007 Atlantic Basin and U.S. landfalling tropical cyclone activity will be about 75% above the 1950-2006 norm, the highest March forecast for activity in any year since the forecaster began issuing real-time forecasts in 1984 (see NGI, March 26). TSR is forecasting that 17 tropical storms will form, which includes nine hurricanes and four Category 3-5 storms. Five storms, including two hurricanes, are expected to make U.S. landfall, the TSR estimated.

Upping its December prediction, the CSU team has said the U.S. Atlantic Basin will likely experience a very active hurricane season in 2007 with an increased probability of a major hurricane making U.S. landfall (see NGI, June 4; April 16). CSU anticipates 17 named storms, with nine of those expected to become hurricanes, of which five are expected to develop into intense or major hurricanes.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) predicts 13 to 17 named storms, with seven to 10 becoming hurricanes, of which three to five could become major hurricanes of Category 3 strength or higher (see NGI, May 28).

Last year, seasonal hurricane predictions proved to be too high when an unexpected El Nino rapidly developed and created a hostile environment for Atlantic storms to form and strengthen (see NGI, Nov. 20, 2006; Dec. 4, 2006). When storms did develop, steering currents kept most of them over the open water in the middle of the Atlantic.

In underscoring its work’s accuracy, Met Office quoted Rob Varley, head of the UK’s Public Weather Service, who praised the British government office for “providing seasonal forecasts for the UK successfully for several years and the tropical storm forecast is the next step.”

Varley indicated he thinks the forecasting work will aid the British government. “The development of the tropical storm forecast will help the UK government protect the interests of its citizens and businesses abroad,” he said.

Met Office said its tropical storm outlook is derived “using the Met Office’s world-leading climate prediction model, taking into account the impacts of the ocean and atmosphere on the forecast for the next six months.”

The 2007 Atlantic season has already seen two named storms…Andrea and Barry.

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