UA scientists predict strong hurricane season

Successful prediction record
Posted at 8:10 PM, Jun 17, 2019
and last updated 2019-06-17 23:10:37-04

TUCSON, Ariz. - Tucson may be in the desert but weather experts at the University of Arizona -- are getting a strong reputation for predicting powerful storms that roar in from the ocean: hurricanes.

UA researchers say the U.S. had better brace itself for a rough hurricane season.

Hurricanes are the most powerful force in nature. When they come ashore, death and damage in the billions often follow.

The good news is modern forecasting can help us be ready to reduce the risk.

Xubin Zeng and his team at University of Arizona Atmospheric Sciences were dead-on when they predicted a busy hurricane season in 2017---while other forecasters expected a much quieter season.

He says this year looks like another rough one.

"We predict the six key named storms, eight, will become hurricanes, and a three will become major hurricanes."

The UA team puts a lot of weight on what other forecasters do not---the strength of wind right on the sea surface. Doctor Zeng says there's more of the warm water that helps hurricanes grow because winds have been light. Stronger winds would have helped lower ocean temperatures.

Even here in the desert, there's plenty of reason to care about hurricanes.

Doctor Zeng says when they hit a wide area, the destruction and cost of recovery can be a drain on a national scale and hurricanes in the Atlantic can still affect weather in Arizona.

"So the hurricane activities over the Atlantic Ocean are directly related to the hurricane activities over the eastern Pacific Ocean, which directly affects our weather in Tucson."

And Doctor Zeng says knowing there's a hard hurricane season ahead can help government and private industry plan for protection in advance of the storm, and recovery after it passes.