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BoatUS weighs accuracy of hurricane predictions

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Every summer, highly qualified experts with supercomputers try to predict how many tropical storms and hurricanes will form in the Atlantic. For this year’s June 1-Nov. 30 hurricane season, most forecasters predict average to above-average storm activity.

But how accurate are those predictions? BoatUS, a national advocacy, services and safety group for boaters, compared more than two decades of storm predictions from Colorado State University’s Philip Klotzbach and the late Bill Gray.

“Our  mission was not to judge the forecasters but to find out how much confidence we should have in the hurricane-season predictions and what it means to boaters,” Charles Fort, director of the BoatUs Seaworthy Program, said in a statement.

Seaworthy found that out of 22 years of hurricane activity forecasts, one was 100 percent accurate. In some years, there were as many as eight more storms than predicted.

Boaters often misinterpret what the forecasters try to do, Fort said. “Early season hurricane predictions don’t attempt to forecast the percentage of storms that will come ashore or which coastal locations will be in the crosshair.”

Fort advises boaters to hope for the best but prepare for the worst. For more information, visit www.boatus.com.

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