Shannon McCloskey

Shannon McCloskey

Exploring How Early Season Tropical Cyclones Indicate Full Season Activity


Shannon McCloskey, Stephen Mullens


Stephen Mullens


College of Liberal Arts and Sciences


Colorado State University’s tropical meteorology project has made annual predictions of tropical cyclone activity for each hurricane season since 1984. Others have since joined this effort, with seven organizations making predictions for the 2019 Atlantic-basin season by early August. While their predictions are made using skillful numerical models, these predictions do not factor in information about tropical storms that have already occurred. Climatologically, the goal of this research is to find out if early tropical cyclone formation can help indicate how active the rest of the hurricane season will be. A skillful relationship from early season activity from historical data could aid seasonal hurricane predictions.

The data shows a significant relationship between when the season’s first five tropical storms form and the number of storms that form across the full season. This relationship is increasingly strong with each tropical storm that forms. As we go from the first to the fifth storm, the increasing strength of this relationship also reduces the range in the confidence interval. This gives us a range that is narrow enough to be useful for predictions.


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Research Pitch

View a 3-minute research pitch below.

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