Posted: August 13, 2013

Coastal Carolina University releases updated hurricane outlook

The most likely scenario for the remainder of the 2013 hurricane season is that at least one major hurricane is predicted to make landfall on the East Coast and none is projected for the Gulf Coast, according to the latest predictions released today by the HUGO Hurricane Landfall Outlook Program, a new hurricane model system developed by scientists at Coastal Carolina University.

“It will be busier than normal on the East Coast, with one, possibly two, major hurricanes likely to make landfall,” said Len Pietrafesa, one of the lead scientists on the HUGO team. “The Gulf Coast will not see as much action as usual in terms of hurricanes making landfall, according to our outlook.” The factors that are used in the probabilistic scheme were updated in July and early August and the changes in those factors accounted for the changes in several of the prediction probabilities.

Two to four major hurricanes are expected to form.

The Hurricane Genesis and Outlook (HUGO) project was established recently by CCU’s College of Coastal & Marine Systems Science. The new model differs from most other hurricane prediction instruments in that it offers landfall probability information. In addition to the seasonal outlook, the model system will predict the track and intensity of any incoming hurricane five days away from landfall. This latter capability will reduce the “cone of uncertainty” and provide much improved information to emergency management officials in their logistical planning in the event of evacuations.

The HUGO hurricane seasonal outlook model is based on calculations of 22 climatological factors encompassing oceanic, atmospheric and terrestrial activity. The model also considers detailed statistical data from previous Atlantic hurricanes going back to 1950, a methodology that has produced highly accurate track predictions in hindcasting tests conducted by the team at CCU.

HUGO outlook reports are issued beginning in April and are updated periodically during the season as new data becomes available from NOAA and other organizations.

The new model was developed by a group of climatological scholars of international standing led by Pietrafesa, former chair of the National Hurricane Center External Advisory Panel and now a member of the faculty of CCU’s School of Coastal & Marine Systems Science. Other members of the CCU team are Shaowu Bao, a computational, deterministic numerical modeler specializing in meteorology and oceanography; Tingzhunag Yan, a meteorological oceanographer with a background in statistical modeling of climate and weather systems; and Paul Gayes, director of the School of Coastal & Marine Systems Science.

For more information about CCU’s HUGO Project, contact Pietrafesa at 843-349-4017 or 704-910-7047 or email lpietraf@coastal.edu. The HUGO Project website is at bcmw.coastal.edu.

University Communications info