By Scott Stransky | May 14, 2020

With the official June 1 start of the Atlantic hurricane season just a couple of weeks away, it’s time to launch AIR’s Annual Hurricane Contest. This is the fifth time we have invited In Focus subscribers to enter a fun and friendly competition similar to the one AIR staff have participated in for years.

The Atlantic hurricane season officially runs from June 1 to November 30, although tropical cyclones can—and sometimes do—occur earlier and later in the year. As of this writing, the first depression or storm of this season is forecast to form this weekend. The 30-year climatological average (1981-2010) calls for 12 named storms, 6 hurricanes, and three major hurricanes to form each year, but each season is unique. Pre-season forecasts for the 2020 Atlantic hurricane season began to appear as early as December 19, 2019. With slightly higher-than-average sea surface temperatures (SSTs) anticipated and ENSO-neutral conditions (neither El Niño nor La Niña) likely to continue well into the season, forecasters are predicting above-average activity this year.

Your mission—should you choose to accept it—is to answer four simple questions about the 2020 Atlantic hurricane season and submit your responses before the entry window closes on May 31.

The questions are:

  1. How many named tropical storms will form in the Atlantic this year?
  2. How many of those tropical storms will become hurricanes?
  3. How many will become major hurricanes (Saffir-Simpson Category 3 or higher)?
  4. How many hurricanes will make landfall in the mainland U.S.?

We will announce the results of the contest just after the end of the calendar year (because hurricanes can form after the end of the official season on November 30). The prize will be a smart home weather station.

In the (entirely possible) event of a tie occurring—even after we have applied our well-established (but still rather baffling) tie-breaking procedure using the error count outlined in the rules of the contest given below—a random drawing will determine the winner.

In 2019 there were 18 named storms, 6 hurricanes, 3 major hurricanes, and 2 mainland U.S. hurricane landfalls. What do you think this year’s Atlantic hurricane season will bring?

Submit your entry for a chance to win!

Contest Rules:

Entries must be submitted by 4:59:59 p.m. (Eastern Time) on May 31, 2020.

You must fill out the entire form using only non-negative integers and provide only one value for each field in the entry form.

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, 2020. 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.

The 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 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, 2020.

The winner will be announced after December 31, 2020, and the prize will be delivered before the end of January 2021.

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 lowering the sea surface temperature. In the event of interference, successful or otherwise, 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.


Read “Top 10 Historical Hurricanes in the U.S.: What Would They Cost Today?” to get a sense of the potential impact.



Categories: Tropical Cyclone

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