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Nature’s roadblock to hurricane prediction

Hurricane Mitch, the strongest storm observed in 1998, is the second deadliest Atlantic hurricane on record. Mitch caused more than 10,000 deaths, mainly due to torrential rainfall across Central America.
Credit: Wikimedia Commons/NOAA satellite image.

GeoSpace

The quiet Atlantic hurricane season of 2013 came as a surprise to many, as seasonal forecasts had consistently predicted an unusually large crop of named storms. A new study published in the Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres, a journal of the American Geophysical Union, finds that internal variability—processes that unfold without being dictated by larger-scale features—can make one season twice as active as another, even when El Niño and other large-scale hurricane-shaping elements are unchanged. The results suggest that seasonal hurricane forecasts could be improved by conveying the amount of unavoidable uncertainty in the outlook.

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