2016 Atlantic Basin seasonal hurricane forecast: Average, but what does that mean?

Now’s the time to prepare…it only takes one

Information obtained through March, 2016 by Philip J. Klotzbach of Colorado State University (CSU) indicates that the 2016 Atlantic hurricane season will have activity near the average 1981-2010 season. However, they emphasize that there is large uncertainty in this prediction due to the factors they discuss in their Extended Range Forecast of Atlantic Seasonal Hurricane Activity and Landfall Strike Probability for 2016. The forecast states:

We estimate that 2016 will have an additional

  • 5 hurricanes (median is 6.5)
  • 12 named storms (median is 12.0)
  • 50 named storm days (median is 60.1)
  • 20 hurricane days (median is 21.3)
  • 2 major (Category 3-4-5) hurricanes  (median is 2.0)
  • 4 major hurricane days (median is 3.9)

The probability of U.S. major hurricane landfall is estimated to be about 90% of the long-period average. We expect Atlantic basin Accumulated Cyclone Energy (ACE) and Net Tropical Cyclone (NTC) activity in 2016 to be approximately 95 percent of their long-term averages.

The current weakening El Niño is likely to transition to either neutral or La Niña conditions by the peak of the Atlantic hurricane season. While the tropical Atlantic is relatively warm, the far North Atlantic is quite cold, potentially indicative of a negative phase of the Atlantic Multi-Decadal Oscillation. We anticipate a near-average probability for major hurricanes making landfall along the United States coastline and in the Caribbean. As is the case with all hurricane seasons, coastal residents are reminded that it only takes one hurricane making landfall to make it an active season for them. They should prepare the same for every season, regardless of how much activity is predicted.

(Links and bullets mine.)

Landfall predictions

Probabilities for at least one major (category 3-4-5) hurricane landfall on each of the following coastal areas:

  • Entire Southern coastline – 50% (average for last century is 52%)
  • Souteast Coast Including Peninsula Florida – 30% (average for last century is 31%)
  • Gulf Coast from the Florida Panhandle westward to Brownsville – 29% (average for last century is 30%)

Probability for at least one major (category 3-4-5) hurricane tracking into the Caribbean (10-20°n, 60-88°w)

  • 40% (average for last century is 42%)

CSU will issue seasonal updates of their 2016 Atlantic basin hurricane forecasts on Wednesday, June 1; Friday, July 1; and Wednesday, August 3. They will also be issuing two-week forecasts for Atlantic TC activity during the climatological peak of the season from August-October. A verification and discussion of all 2016 forecasts will be issued in late November 2016. All of these forecasts will be available on their website.

Hurricane preparation guidelines

While I have you thinking of hurricanes, let’s review some preparedness actions you can take.

Before the storm

  • Review/update emergency response plans and business continuity/disaster recovery
  • Review procedures with emergency organization or emergency response team to ensure all positions are filled and all members are properly
  • Check general condition of the building, specifically the roof covering, roof, flashing and roof drains. Make all necessary
  • Order emergency supplies, such as plywood for windows, mops, brooms, tarpaulins for key equipment, sandbags,
  • Identify key equipment, stock and supplies, and vital records that will need to be relocated, covered and/or raised off the floor
  • Have materials available to secure outside and/or roof- mounted equipment, such as cranes, signs, trailers and HVAC Also, check securement of above ground tanks, such as propane and diesel fuel.
  • Monitor commercial TV, radio and/or internet websites to keep abreast of weather conditions and watches and/ or
  • Test all generators, emergency lighting, UPS (Uninterruptible Power Supply) equipment and sump pumps to ensure proper

Impending storm

  • Implement business continuity/disaster recovery
  • Shut down operations in an orderly manner and in accordance with emergency shutdown
  • Check all fire protection equipment, such as sprinkler control valves and fire
  • Fuel all fire pumps, generators, company vehicles, power equipment (e.g., saws, etc.). Install hurricane shutters or plywood over windows and
  • Cover computers, machinery, stock and supplies with tarpaulins.
  • If possible, raise any equipment, finished goods or items off the
  • Secure outside and/or roof-mounted equipment, such as cranes, signs, trailers and HVAC
  • If necessary, turn off utilities to reduce the probability of a fire/explosion.
  • Conduct final inspection of building and make emergency
  • Heed advice from local officials regarding any evacuation

After the storm

  • If safe, make emergency repairs and commence with salvage procedures to try to keep any additional damage from
  • Survey for damage – take pictures of any damage to both the building(s) and its
  • Avoid loose or dangling power lines and report them to utility company, police or fire
  • Before utilities are returned to service, check for gas leaks, look for electrical system damage, and check for sewage and water line
  • Begin salvage operations as soon as
  • Clean debris from roofs and property if safe to do
  • Use telephone only for emergency
  • Use pre-established property risk control programs and procedures programs, such as sprinkler impairment procedures and cutting and welding permits when repairs commence.
  • Stay tuned to local radio for
  • Critique pre – and post-storm actions to identify strengths and weaknesses and make necessary modifications to prepare for the next



Joe StavishGuest blogger Joe Stavish is Director of Property Risk Control, based in our Naples, FL office. He has been with Willis Towers Watson for 34 years and has 40 years of experience in Property Risk Engineering.


  1. Hurricane Alex was the first named storm in the Atlantic Basin which formed in January, 2016. Alex was the
    first hurricane to form in the month of January since 1938, and the first hurricane to occur in this month since Alice of 1955 (which topped out at 80 mph). Alex, reached maximum sustained winds of 85 mph so it is officially the strongest January hurricane on record in the Atlantic. Including Alex, the total seasonal forecast issued by CSU is 13.
  2. Major Hurricane – A hurricane which reaches a sustained low-level wind of at least 111 mph (96 knots) at some point in its lifetime. This equates to a Category 3 or higher on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale.
  3. ACE (Accumulated Cyclone Energy) – A measure of a named storm’s potential for wind and storm surge destruction defines as the sum of the square of a named storm’s maximum wind speed for each 6-hour period of its existence.
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