It might still be nearly two months until the Atlantic hurricane season officially begins, but forecasters at Colorado State University have already released their prediction for the upcoming season. By looking at wind patterns and sea surface temperatures around the globe, they are able to predict with a certain degree of accuracy how many named storms and hurricanes will form.
The prediction released on April 6, 2011 calls for the following:
16 named storms
5 major hurricanes (Category 3 or greater)
If this prediction pans out, that would be a slightly above average season when looking back over the past 15 years of data. Compared to 2010, it would also be slightly less active. The 2010 hurricane season brought 19 named storms, many of which steered clear of the United States coastline. It's also important to point out that this forecast is unable to pinpoint how many of these storms will make landfall. Sometimes the most active seasons can provide the least number of landfalling storms. By contrast some of the least active seasons can provide some of the biggest landfalls. An example that stands out in my mind was the relatively quiet season of 1992, which didn't have much tropical development. However, that is the season that spawned Hurricane Andrew which went on to ravage southern Florida, becoming one of the costliest hurricanes in history. All it takes is just one storm.
What tropical system has had the biggest impact on you and where were you when it happened? For me, it would be a toss up between Hurricane Fran in 1996 (when I lived in central North Carolina) and Hurricane Ivan (when I lived in Asheville, North Carolina). I want to hear your stories, so leave them in the comments section!