Like It Or Not, Hurricane Season Starts This Weekend

May 31, 2013

The 2013 Atlantic Hurricane season officially begins this weekend and forecasters are predicting another active season.

But while storm predictions may be improving, they remain an inexact science.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says the Atlantic basin can likely expect 13 to 20 named storms this year--about half of them to become hurricanes.

Forecasters at Miami's National Hurricane Center have changed their thinking about storm surge predictions after Superstorm Sandy, pictured here.
Credit FlickR/NASA Goddard Photo and Video

But National Hurricane Center director Rick Knabb says the cone of uncertainty in a storm’s path remains so...

“The accuracy of our storm forecasting has improved over the last couple of decades. But, I want to emphasize that the problem is still not solved,” he said.

In the aftermath of last year’s Superstorm Sandy, which devastated parts of the East Coast and left coastal areas flooded and eroded, Knabb says another issue yet to be solved involves how forecasters predict storm surge.

“(In terms of) storm surge and hurricane or tropical storm force winds, history teaches us (that) events don’t always occur in the same place at the same time," Knabb said. "Storm surge needs its own watches and warnings and we’re headed in that direction.”

Playing a role in this year’s forecast is the lack of the Pacific weather pattern known as El Nino, which can suppress systems in the Atlantic. That's why forecasters say 2013 could produce stronger and more frequent hurricanes.

Floridians might be wondering when their number is up. It’s now been 8 years since a hurricane hit the state.

Wilma in 2005 was also the last time a major--category 3 or higher--storm hit the US mainland, the longest such stretch in the history of weather keeping.