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Florida scientists issue hurricane season forecast

2:22 PM, May 31, 2013   |    comments
Rows of supercomputers with nearly 7,000 CPU's crunch the numbers to develop this year's hurricane forecast from Florida State University.
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- Look for an above average hurricane season in the Atlantic according to a new forecast from one of the most accurate hurricane prediction models in the world.

Scientists at Florida State are predicting 15 named storms and eight hurricanes for the season from June 1 to November 30.

The FSU hurricane model has been busy crunching the latest climate numbers over the past week.

Rows and rows of supercomputers are stacked high in the Center for Ocean-Atmospheric Prediction Studies and they contain a massive amount of computing power. Nearly 7,000 CPU's are firing to create simulations from water temperatures and other atmospheric conditions.

Scientists ran 50 different simulations and came up with this forecast: 12 to 17 named storms and five to 10 hurricanes.

Tim LaRow of the Center for Ocean-Atmospheric Prediction Studies admits he's a little nervous about the forecast, as is always the case, but he's confident in the model.

"The FSU model is one of the top in predicting the numbers of hurricanes in the Atlantic."

FSU operates one of the few models in the world using a global numerical climate model.

LaRow says that's better than traditional statistical models because it evaluates more data.

"It's better because it incorporates the physics and the dynamics of the atmosphere and so we're able to produce a tremendous amount of data that we're able to sift through during the season and after the season to see why and when the hurricanes actually formed and try to understand the physics of the predictability."

This is the fifth official hurricane forecast from COAPS, although it has also gone back and used data over the past 30 years to re-forecast those hurricane seasons. The model has only been off by about two per season for hurricanes and named storms.

LaRaw says all the models are predicting an above average hurricane season his year.

"With above average water temperatures in the Atlantic and with this increased decadal activity that we've seen since 1995, which seems to be continuing, all the models are in consensus that it's going to be an above average season."

FSU's forecast is slightly lower than the federal government's NOAA forecast of 13 to 20 named storms and seven to 11 hurricanes.

Dave Heller

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