Based in the United Kingdom, Tropical Storm Risk is an organization that issues predictions about tropical cyclones and assesses the potential risks for weather-related damages.
Adam Lea, senior research fellow at TSR, spoke to the Source about his work with the organization and the reasoning behind TSR’s prediction for a below-average 2023 Atlantic hurricane season.
The TSR organization developed out of a university and insurance industry collaboration program, which included some governmental support.
“There was a collaborative effort between academia and [the insurance] industry in the 1990s called TSUNAMI,” explained Lea. “A tropical storm tracking site was built in the early 2000s, and I joined [TSR] at the end of 2002.
“I have been involved in seasonal forecasting since then. Around 2008, the business side of the venture was developed with subscription products developed to assist [the insurance] industry in tropical cyclone risk management,” Lea added.
TSR Forecast Models
The company utilizes its weather forecast models to make predictions about cyclones, and they also factor in the forecasts from major weather organizations worldwide. Cyclone predictions from TSR are provided for areas across the North Atlantic and the Northwest Pacific.
“We have our own in-house statistical models for seasonal prediction of tropical cyclone activity in the Atlantic and the NW Pacific up to several months ahead of the peak season,” explained Lea.
“For seasonal forecasting, we use a combination of our statistical models alongside ‘ENSO’ [which stands for El Nino, Southern Oscillation] forecasts from [the International Research Institute for Climate and Society] IRI,” stated Lea.
2023 Atlantic Hurricane Season Predictions
TSR released its prediction for the 2023 Atlantic Hurricane Season, with some good news for the USVI. According to their report, a below-average season is anticipated regarding the number of cyclones. However, there is still much uncertainty and many months before the 2023 season begins.
“TSR predicts that North Atlantic hurricane activity in 2023 will be about 15% below the 1991-2020 30-year norm and close to the long-term 1950-2022 norm. This outlook has large uncertainties,” according to the TSR official website.
“Our [2023 Atlantic Hurricane Season] prediction is based on the expected trend of El Nino Southern Oscillation (ENSO) over the coming nine months,” Lea pointed out. “We are currently in ‘La Nina’ conditions, which are expected to have peaked around [the present time] and are forecast to weaken over the winter and next spring.”
“Many models are predicting a switch to weak ‘El Nino’ conditions as we move into summer next year, which would act to suppress tropical cyclone activity in the Atlantic. It should be stressed at this lead time that uncertainties in the evolution of ENSO through next year have high uncertainty,” added Lea.
Lea provides more details about ENSO as it pertains to meteorology.
“ENSO stands for El Niño, Southern Oscillation and refers to the oscillation of sea surface temperature anomalies in the Eastern Equatorial Pacific (warm = El Niño, cool = La Niña). The changes in sea surface temperature and wind are closely linked.”
Damage Risk Assessment
Assessing the risks for damages caused by extreme weather events is another focus of TSR to help individuals be prepared.
“Much of our contribution to risk assessment comes from the business products which display historical and projected areas,” Lea said. “We hope to develop maps for mapping tropical cyclone rainfall and storm surge hazards.”
Indications for Potential USVI or Puerto Rico Impacts in 2023
While the exact amount of tropical activity in the upcoming season is still unknown, historical data can provide insight into indications about how cyclones may impact the USVI or Puerto Rico.
“Historically, landfalls in the Caribbean tend to be correlated to the level of activity in the Atlantic Main Development Region, which is the region defined as 10-20N [latitude], 60-20W [longitude]. Activity in the MDR is related to the sea surface temperature anomalies and the trade winds’ strength,” said Lea.
“Going by the current forecast, we expect landfall in/around the Caribbean to be lower than average. However, as you are no doubt aware, it only takes one big storm to make it an active season for the unfortunate victims, which can happen even in an overall quiet year,” explained Lea.
“Residents in hurricane-prone regions should always be prepared in advance no matter what the seasonal forecasts may indicate,” cautioned Lea.
Source readers and visitors in the USVI are encouraged to stay updated on weather systems on the V.I. Source Weather page and sign up for alerts from the National Weather Service and the Virgin Islands Territorial Emergency Management Agency.
Related links: TSUNAMI U.K. Government Initiative website, Tropical Storm Risk Website, TSR’s Extended Range Forecast for North Atlantic Hurricane Activity in 2023, International Research Institute for Climate and Society, Joint Typhoon Warning Center, National Hurricane Center