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North Atlantic tropical storm seasonal forecast 2016

Hurricane Isabel viewed from space in 2003

Forecast for June to November 2016

Issued 12 May 2016

The most likely number of named tropical storms (winds of at least 39 mph) predicted to occur in the North Atlantic during the June to November period is 14, with a 70% chance that the number will be in the range 10 to 18. The 1980-2010 long-term average is 12.

The most likely number of hurricanes (winds of at least 74 mph) predicted to occur in the North Atlantic during the June to November period is 8, with a 70% chance that the number will be in the range 6 to 10. The 1980-2010 long-term average is 6.

An ACE index of 125 is predicted as the most likely value, with a 70% chance that the index will be in the range 77 to 173. The 1980-2010 average is 104.

Note: Hurricane Alex occurred in January 2016 and is therefore outside the period covered by this prediction (June-November).

Tropical Storm Frequency Seasonal Prediction 2016Hurricane Frequency Seasonal Prediction 2016
ACE Index Seasonal Prediction 2016

Our Risk modelling collaborations provide expert advice on seasonal predictions of tropical storms. Please email consulting@metoffice.gov.uk for further information.

Background

'Tropical cyclone' is the generic term for a low-pressure system over tropical or subtropical waters, with intense convective activity (e.g. thunderstorms) and winds circulating in an anticlockwise direction in the northern hemisphere (clockwise in the southern hemisphere). A tropical storm is a tropical cyclone with mean wind speeds of at least 39 mph. The terms hurricane and typhoon are region-specific names for strong tropical cyclones with wind speeds of at least 74 mph.

The North Atlantic tropical storm season usually runs from June to November. The degree of activity over the whole season varies from year to year and is measured in several ways.

  • Total number of tropical storms. The number of named tropical cyclones with winds of at least 39 mph observed over the season. This is the best known measure of the level of storm activity. In this forecast the number of tropical storms also includes those that reach hurricane strength (see below).
  • Total number of hurricanes. The number of tropical cyclones that reach sustained winds of at least 74 mph.
  • The Accumulated Cyclone Energy (ACE) index. A measure of the collective intensity and duration of all named tropical storms and hurricanes during the season.

The table below shows the number of tropical storms, hurricanes and ACE index observed in recent years.

North Atlantic tropical storm activity
(June-November)
Year    Tropical storms Hurricanes ACE index
2010 19 12 164
2011 19 7 124
2012 17 10 123
2013 13 2 31
2014 8 6 65
2015 10 4 58

Forecast

At the start of each North Atlantic season the Met Office forecasts the number of tropical storms, hurricanes and ACE index.  Seasonal forecasts of tropical storm activity have been issued annually since 2007. See our previous seasonal tropical storm forecasts for 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010 , 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2015.

Method

The forecast is made using information from the Met Office global dynamical seasonal forecast system, GloSea5, which is an ensemble prediction system based on a fully coupled ocean-atmosphere general circulation model (GCM; MacLachlan et al 2014). This system simulates the ocean-atmosphere processes and interactions that determine tropical storm development. Multiple forecasts are made (using ensemble forecasting methods) to allow estimation of the range of likely outcomes.  The ensemble is then used to produce a best-estimate (or most-likely) predicted value (the ensemble mean) and forecast range (using the spread in the ensemble outcomes). Further details on the forecast method can be found in Camp et al. (2015).

Skill

Recent studies have shown that dynamical models have considerable skill predicting the number of tropical storms - for example successfully predicting the change from the exceptionally active season of 2005 to the below-normal activity of the 2006 season. Full details of the skill of GloSea5 to predict tropical storm activity around the world have been documented by Camp et al. (2015).

Verification

The table below shows the seasonal forecast values issued on 12 May 2016 for the June-November 2016 period together with the end of season observed values. This season the observed number of tropical storms, number of hurricanes and ACE Index were all within the predicted ranges.

  Most likely Number 70% forecast range Observed number
Tropical storms 14 10-18 14
Hurricanes 8 6-10 6
ACE Index 125 77-173 131

A public forecast for the June to November 2017 period in the Atlantic will be issued in May 2017.

References

Camp, J., Roberts, M., MacLachlan, C., Wallace, E., Hermanson, L., Brookshaw, A., Arribas, A., Scaife, A. A., (2015). Seasonal Forecasting of Tropical Storms Using the Met Office GloSea5 Seasonal Forecast System. Q.J.R. Meteorol. Soc.

MacLachlan, C., Arribas, A., Peterson, K. A., Maidens, A., Fereday, D., Scaife, A. A., Gordon, M., Vellinga, M., Williams, A., Comer, R. E., Camp, J., Xavier, P., Madec, G., (2014). Global Seasonal Forecast System version 5 (GloSea5): a High-Resolution Seasonal Forecast System. Q.J.R. Meteorol. Soc.

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Last updated: Dec 1, 2016 10:55 AM