Enter AIR's Hurricane Contest!

May 16, 2016

Are you more accurate than a random number generator? Now that it's mid-May and we are just a couple of weeks away from the official start of the Atlantic hurricane season, it is time to enter AIR's annual Hurricane Contest. For the last six years, AIR staff have participated in an internal version of the competition that Jonathan Kinghorn blogged about after he won the 2014 edition. We've decided that it is time to let you share in the fun, too.

All you have to do is answer four questions and submit your responses before the entry window closes on May 31, 2016.

The goal is to predict the number of named tropical storms that will form in the Atlantic this year, how many of those will become hurricanes, how many will become major hurricanes (Saffir-Simpson Category 3 or higher), and the number of hurricanes that will make landfall in the mainland U.S. For example, in 2015 there were 11 named storms, four hurricanes, two major hurricanes, and no mainland U.S. hurricane landfalls. In 2014, Jonathan came very close to guessing the actual season totals of eight named storms, six hurricanes, two major hurricanes, and one mainland U.S. hurricane landfall.

The winner, who will be announced at the end of the year, will receive a personal weather station. In the (not unlikely) event of a tie occurring—even after we have applied our established tie-breaking procedure using the error count outlined in the rules of the contest—a random drawing will determine the winner.

So run a complex computer simulation, consult a psychic, throw some dice, cut cards, read tea leaves, or simply make a mug of coffee and set aside a few moments of quality time for productive thought. Do whatever you feel is necessary to enable you to make an accurate prediction, and then submit your entry! We'll even give you one tip: Hurricane Alex formed back in January, so there has already been one named storm and one hurricane this season.

Contest Rules:

Entries must be submitted by 4:59:59 p.m. (Eastern Time) on May 31, 2016.

You must fill out the entire form using only non-negative integers and provide only one value for each field in the entry form (yes, in the past an AIR staffer included uncertainty in their entry).

It is recommended, though not required, that your entry follow these inequalities:
named storms ≥ hurricanes ≥ major hurricanes; hurricanes ≥ mainland U.S. hurricane landfalls.

The winner will have the lowest combined error of total named storms in the Atlantic basin, total hurricanes, total major (category 3, 4, or 5) hurricanes, and mainland U.S. landfalling hurricanes.

The contest runs through December 31, 2016. In the event that a storm forms, becomes major, or makes landfall past that date, it will not count.

The National Hurricane Center's reanalysis by the end of the year will be the validation set, regardless of how the storm was named or categorized at the time.

Error count = |guessed named storms – actual named storms| + |guessed hurricanes – actual hurricanes| + |guessed major storms – actual major storms| + |guessed mainland U.S. landfalling hurricanes – actual mainland U.S. landfalling hurricanes|

In the likely event of a tie occurring even after applying the error count outlined above, a random drawing will determine the winner.

All data used in determining storm count error will come from the National Hurricane Center, as of December 31, 2016.

Winners will be announced after December 31, 2016, and prizes delivered before the end of January 2017.

Interfering with the contest is not permitted.  For example, you are not allowed to seed clouds in a storm to try to prevent it from gaining strength.  Similarly, you may not put ice into the ocean beneath a storm to try cooling the sea surface temperature.  In the event of interference, your entry will be disqualified.

If an issue comes up that is not addressed in these rules, a decision will be made by an appropriate subject matter expert within AIR.

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