Hurricane forecasts are very interesting and well publicized in the media, but how reliable are they?

Not very, according to catastrophe modeling expert Karen Clark, who provides a chart of seasonal hurricane forecasts from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) since 2002 along with the actual numbers of hurricanes to form in the North Atlantic.


The forecasts have been wrong in more than half the years since 2002—seven out of eleven—indicating a higher chance of a hurricane forecast being wrong than right, she says in an exclusive article for Carrier Management, “Understanding Hurricanes: The Basic Facts For Carrier CEOs.

Over the past several years, organizations such as Colorado State University, Tropical Storm Risk, and NOAA have produced North Atlantic tropical storm forecasts. These seasonal forecasts can come out as early as December of the preceding year and are typically updated in April or May and then again in June and August. The forecasts are usually similar because they are based on the same data and climatological factors.

In her article, Clark explains why it so difficult to get the predictions, reveals the probabilities of hurricanes making landfall in various regions of the United States this year, and explains why carriers should not take comfort in PMLs, which can misestimate potential losses from 100-year events by wide margins.