Recently the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) released their 2012 Atlantic Hurricane Season outlook. What this outlook basically shows is how much hurricane activity we can expect for the 2012 Atlantic hurricane season.
The NOAA is projecting the 2012 Atlantic Hurricane Season to have a near-normal level of activity. In comparison to last year’s heavy Hurricane Season this is welcome news. Let’s first look at what is considered normal. The official National Hurricane Center (NHC) lists seasonal averages from 1981-2010. They state those averages as 12 named storms, 6 hurricanes and 3 major hurricanes.
As you can see 2011′s hurricane season exceeded all of those criteria.
Activity that we experienced during the 2011 Atlantic Hurricane Season totaled:
- 19 named storms
- 7 actual hurricanes
- 4 major hurricanes (including Irene which hit the Northeast United States and destroyed my basement).
If everything holds true the “near-normal” projection for 2012 should fall squarely into the seasonal averages.
For the 2012 Season the NOAA is estimating (a 70 percent probability):
- 9-15 Named Storms,
- 4-8 Hurricanes
- 1-3 Major Hurricanes
- An Accumulated Cyclone Energy (ACE) range of 65%-140% of the median.
Here is how the NOAA categorizes the different levels of tropical storm activity.
- A tropical storm is named when the system reaches maximum sustained winds of 39 miles per hour
- A named storm becomes a hurricane when maximum sustained winds of 74 miles per hour
- A hurricane becomes a major hurricane once it reaches sustained winds of 111 miles per hour or more.
The Accumulated Cyclone Energy (ACE) is a measure of the intensity and duration of name storms and hurricanes. An ACE of over 111 percent would be considered above-normal with 71.4% being below normal.
These projections are based on a comparison of conditions as they exist now, compared to historical data. The hopes are, that similar conditions will product predictable results, but as we all know when it comes to Mother Nature nothing is completely predictable.
While the NOAA can provide a range of expectations for hurricane season, there are too many conditions that cannot be measured at this time will ultimately determine what really becomes of this Hurricane Season. El Niño and La Niña forecasts can’t reliably be done this time of year. Whether or not conditions will result in a few big storms or several smaller storms also can’t really be nailed down. Sea-surface temperatures, moisture and a host of other factors also have limited reliability when predicted this far in advance.
So, keep in mind that all of this is a projection and a very blurry glimpse into total hurricane activity, not an actual accurate forecast on either hurricane landfall or activity levels for any specific region. In other words booking a cruise between the months of June and October is always going to be a bit of a crap-shoot. So, unless you are booking a cruise extremely last minute, there is just no way to truly be certain of how the 2012 Hurricane Season will affect your cruise vacation until much closer to your vacation date.
So, remember while it’s true that cruising during Hurricane Season can result in a substantial savings of money, no one likes to have their cruise vacation altered due to a storm. With any luck these projections will hold true resulting in a milder Hurricane Season than we experienced last year. But nothing is certain and you will still want to take a serious look into cruise insurance anytime you are cruising and especially when cruising during Hurricane Season.
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