Hurricane Outlook 2013

They are a fact of life along the East and Gulf Coasts: hurricanes.

The last serious brush in Virginia was with Irene in 2011, knocking out power to huge sections of Richmond and Hampton Roads, and it breached many of the barrier islands on the North Carolina Outer Banks.

Inland areas, however, have a greater risk from flooding.

While the James held in its banks in Lynchburg a couple of weeks ago, that amount of rain pales in comparison with what a tropical system can bring.

Of the five highest crests on the James River in Lynchburg, three were from tropical systems.

Problems occur when the system slows its forward speed, and interacts with other weaker systems.

That was the case with Juan in 1985, Camille in 1969, and Agnes in 1972.

And despite Sandy from last year, which was technically a Category One storm, the United States has not had a major hurricane make landfall since Wilma in 2005, which is the longest such streak on record. Major hurricanes are defined as Category Three or higher.

Even though that is the case, the tropics have been active. Steering currents have kept most of the larger hurricanes away from the U.S.

So the seasons have been busy, but as is often the case, out of sight, out of mind.

The Colorado State Tropical Meteorology Project pioneered seasonal hurricane forecasting; this is their thirtieth year issuing outlooks.

They arrive at their conclusions by examining water temperatures in the Tropical Atlantic, air pressure in the North Atlantic and eastern Pacific, and water temperature forecasts along the equator in the Pacific.

Eighteen named storms are forecast this year, with nine of those becoming hurricanes, and four of those becoming major hurricanes. All of those numbers are above the long term average.

NOAA, the parent agency of the National Weather Service, will issue its outlook on May 23.

It is important to remember, that this is only an outlook, and it is easy to find other outlooks from other private companies.

However, there is no skill in forecasting a specific hurricane to hit a specific place several months in advance.