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Updated CCU outlook forecasts significantly lower probability of hurricane landfalls for 2018 season

August 17, 2018
An updated report by the Hurricane Genesis & Outlook (HUGO) Project at Coastal Carolina University is forecasting a lower probability of Atlantic hurricane activity for the reminder of the 2018 hu

An updated report by the Hurricane Genesis & Outlook (HUGO) Project at Coastal Carolina University is forecasting a lower probability of Atlantic hurricane activity for the reminder of the 2018 hurricane season than was indicated in its initial outlook released in May.

Based on updated climate factors available in early August and projected climate indicators in the upcoming months, the HUGO team now anticipates a “below to near normal” season. One of the determining indicators contributing to the revised forecast is the El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO), which now predicts conditions favorable to a full El Niño in the next few months.

“If the El Niño develops as predicted by major dynamical models, it will influence weather worldwide and should result in a reduction in hurricane activity in the North Atlantic Ocean Basin,” according to the updated HUGO outlook released by CCU’s Burroughs & Chapin Center for Marine and Wetland Studies.

The latest HUGO report, detailed in the table above, indicates the likelihood that there will be four named storms in 2018 rather than seven as was forecast in May, and two major hurricanes (Category 3 or above) in 2018 rather than three as was forecast previously.

In the latest outlook, the statistical probability of a landfall fell significantly in comparison to the May outlook, from 0.93 to 0.30 on the East Coast and from 0.88 to 0.35 on the Gulf Coast. The August outlook forecasts a most likely scenario that no hurricanes will make landfall on either the U.S. East Coast or the U.S. Gulf Coast during the 2018 hurricane season. The second most likely scenario is that one hurricane will make landfall on the U.S. East Coast and that one will make landfall on the Gulf Coast this season.

The end-to-end HUGO model system, which has proven to be highly accurate, was developed in 2013 by a group of climatological and weather scholars of international standing in CCU’s School of Coastal and Marine Systems Science. The members of the team are: Len Pietrafesa, a computational fluid physicist and former chair of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) science advisory board and of the National Hurricane Center external advisory panel; Shaowu Bao, a computational, deterministic numerical modeler specializing in meteorology and oceanography and a professor in coastal and marine systems science at CCU; Tingzhuang Yan, a meteorological oceanographer with a background in statistical modeling of climate and weather systems and a Burroughs & Chapin Research Scholar at CCU; and Paul Gayes, CCU professor and executive director of the Burroughs & Chapin Center for Marine and Wetland Studies.

The HUGO hurricane seasonal outlook model is based on calculations of 22 climatological factors encompassing oceanic, atmospheric and shoreline 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 hind-casting tests conducted by the team at CCU. The HUGO team has made a significant advance in computing a key factor in advance of an upcoming season, the Accumulated Cyclone Energy (ACE) Index, which calculates the kinetic energy of storms based on the summation of all tropical storm wind values, observed over an entire hurricane season.

In addition to the seasonal outlook, the model system predicts the track, intensity, surge and the inundation and flooding potential of an incoming hurricane seven days out. The HUGO model system is updated daily until the hurricane makes landfall, providing specific data on probabilistic storm surge an d inundation including time, location and statistical representations of expected water depth along the coastline.

For more information about CCU’s HUGO Project, contact Bao at 843-349-6633 or sbao@coastal.edu or Pietrafesa at 704-910-7047 or email lpietraf@coastal.edu.

Additional information:

Hurricane landfall on both the East and Gulf coasts likely in 2018, according to HUGO outlook