Monday, May 14th, 2018

Predicting Hurricanes for 2018

hurricanes

Captain Adrian McCourt the Group Chief Engineer at the Munich Re Syndicate Limited has a sailor’s natural disdain for long-range forecasts but for the last none years he has provided superyacht Captains with a wealth of weather insight much of which has made for smoother and safer sailing.

He does not always get things right! This was illustrated by his prediction for 2017, which was (in his own words) “as pathetic as it was inaccurate.”

His 12 named storms, 6 hurricanes and 2 intense hurricanes were far, far short of the 17 named storms, 10 hurricanes and 6 intense hurricanes that the world faced through the summer.

But nobody else was even close, for that matter. Even the Canadian catastrophist fell short of such a ghastly prediction.

Nonetheless, he has decided to take a stab at a prediction for 2018 and here it is.“Sea temperatures are higher than normal across the western Atlantic and Caribbean basins – very similar to the picture last year, which is conducive for cyclonic strengthening.”

“In addition, the Bermuda High pressure centre will also again be in a favourable latitude, allowing more storm formation as low pressure pulses cross the pond on the West African – Caribbean conveyor belt.”

“Early indications show that the currently weak La Nina appears likely to do little more than transition to neutral over the summer with no significant El Nino to dampen the passion of developing systems with upper level wind shear until the autumn at the very earliest, if at all.”

“Consequently, warm water and reduced upper level shear look to be the flavour of the 2018 season which will then bring another busy season, with a higher than average number of storms.”

Having missed the target by a good mile last season, his reluctant prediction suggests we will see 15 named storms, 8 hurricanes and 4 major hurricanes.

It is he says, “As good as starting point as any, if rather gloomy and probably slightly higher than the rest of the herd.”Storm names this year will be the same as 2012 with the exception of SANDY, which has been replaced by SARA.

  • ALBERTO,
  • BERYL
  • CHRIS
  • DEBBY (sic)
  • ERNESTO
  • FLORENCE
  • GORDON
  • HELENE
  • ISAAC
  • JOYCE
  • KIRK
  • LESLIE
  • MICHAEL
  • NADINE
  • OSCAR (which ends his predicted season)
  • PATTY
  • RAFAEL,
  • SARA,
  • TONY,
  • VALERIE
  • WILLIAM.

Names are recycled in this way but rotters are always retired – hence no SANDY this year.

Many of you will be aware that Captain McCourt draws information from a number of sources, varying from the reliable agencies such as the UK Met Office, a couple of Europeans and of course many US, particularly military, sources.

He says, “In quiet times, I occasionally share a snippet from one of the more eccentric storm enthusiasts who can always be relied upon to see a cumulus cloud and predict Armageddon.

One such observer is the Canadian guy, or ‘blind sniper’, who seems to have acquired a popular following amongst superyacht Captains, judging from feedback received.

Of him Captain McCourt  says, “He has had the odd success over the years, but has only been remarkable by fairly consistent inaccuracy. However, credit where credit is due.”

“Deranged or not, he was spot on with MATTHEW in October 2016, long before anyone even thought this would go to the eastern seaboard.”

“He did at one point produce a track for OPHELIA last year which would have passed directly over my house. This gives me cause to suspect that he is on to me and knows where I live.”

Starting his tenth year today Captain McCourt starts collecting information early each morning London time. Once the overnight reports are in from the US (mid-afternoon UK time), he issues his daily report as an email.

Later these reports are posted on the website at www.watkins-marine.com and using Twitter on @watkinsmarine

If you dabble in such dark arts we suggest this is a good account to follow

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