Now that the 2006 hurricane season is officially over, let’s face the facts. Despite early predictions of a season that would rival the number of storms and possible the damage seen in 2005, 2006 turned out to be a lighter than normal year. We had nine named storms, as opposed to the 15 or so predicted, and five hurricanes, as opposed to the nine that were forecast. No hurricanes hit the US coast this year. Dr. Gray described it well in his seasonal recap when he said, “Our 2006 seasonal hurricane forecast was not successful.”
Forecasters were unable to see the El Nino pattern that emerged this summer, which tends to reduce the number of hurricanes. Nor did they see the relatively dry weather in the Atlantic, including the presence of dust storms over Africa that retarded tropical development. On the bright side, the prediction of storms affecting the Atlantic coast, even though there weren’t many of them, was right on.
This season also had its share of rainmakers that either were never declared to be official storms by the National Hurricane Center, or were declared extratropical prior to causing their most intense damage. You may remember Ernesto causing a state of emergency throughout Pennsylvania, although by the time it got there, it was no longer a storm.
In any case, we’re now free to fret about the possibility of snow this winter, but be advised, the first preliminary forecast for the 2007 season is just a week away. I’ll keep you informed.