Hugo team at CCU releases June update of the hurricane outlook for 2016.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

CONWAY, S.C. – According to its latest update, the HUGO Hurricane Landfall Outlook Program at Coastal Carolina University is forecasting a slightly higher probability of Atlantic hurricane activity in 2016 than was indicated in its initial report, released in April. The update forecasts a marginal increase in the number of tropical storms and the number of hurricanes, as well as a slightly greater probability of a landfall on the U.S. East Coast. The April report described the overall 2016 season as “near to above normal.”


The latest HUGO outlook, calculated in mid-June and detailed in the table below, predicts that there will be 14 named tropical storms this season, rather than the 13 predicted in April, and eight named hurricanes rather than seven. The June report also indicates a most-likely scenario of one hurricane landfall on the East Coast rather than zero, as was forecast in April. At least one landfall is predicted in the Gulf of Mexico, consistent with the April outlook.



April Outlook

June Outlook

Historyical Average (1950-2014)


13 (11-15)

14 (12-19)



7 (6-10)

8 (6-11)



3 (2-5)

3 (3-6)



0.67 (0-2) 0, 1, 2

0.80 (0-2) 1, 0, 2



1.19 (0-2) 1, 2, 0

1.08 (0-2) 1, 0, 2


TS = named storms per season; NH = number of hurricanes; MH = major hurricanes (category 3 or higher); ECLF = number of landfall hurricanes on the U.S. East Coast; GCLF = number of landfall hurricanes along the U.S. Gulf Coast. The numbers in parentheses represent the range of probability. The number of landfalls is given as a probability in order of decreasing likelihood in three stages.


“It should be noted that the 2016 scenario is highly dependent on variations of climate factor phases in late June and July,” said Len Pietrafresa, research professor in CCU’s School of Coastal and Marine Systems Science (SCMSS) and leader of the HUGO team. “The key issues at this point are how quickly La Niña will develop and how warm the upper ocean waters of the North Atlantic become.”  The next update will be issued in early August. The hurricane season is June 1 to Nov. 30.


Last year’s HUGO outlook forecast of a “below normal” season was highly accurate. The 2015 outlook correctly forecast a most likely scenario that no hurricanes would make landfall on either the East or Gulf coasts. Last year’s outlook also accurately forecast the number of hurricanes at four.


The HUGO Hurricane Landfall Outlook Program is a unique hurricane model system developed by scientists at Coastal Carolina University and unveiled in 2013. The model differs from most other hurricane prediction instruments in that it offers hurricane number landfall probability information. In addition to the seasonal outlook, the model system predicts the track and intensity as well as data on the surge, inundation and flooding potential of any incoming hurricane five days away from projected landfall.


The HUGO hurricane seasonal outlook model is based on calculations of 22 climatological factors encompassing oceanic, atmospheric and shoreline activity. The model also considers detailed statistical data from previous Atlantic hurricanes going back to 1950, a methodology that has produced highly accurate track predictions in hind-casting tests conducted by the team at CCU. The HUGO team has made a significant advance in computing a key factor in advance of an upcoming season, the Accumulated Cyclone Energy (ACE) Index, which calculates the kinetic energy of storms based on the summation of all tropical storm wind values, observed over an entire hurricane season. 


Also, because the HUGO model system provides specific data on probable storm surge and inundation as a hurricane approaches, including time, location and statistical representations of expected water depth along the coastline, it has special relevance for emergency management officials in their logistical planning in the event of evacuations.


The end-to-end HUGO model system was developed by a group of climatological and weather scholars of international standing led by Pietrafesa, former chair of the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Science Advisory Board and of the National Hurricane Center External Advisory Panel. Other members of the CCU team are Shaowu Bao, a computational, deterministic numerical modeler specializing in meteorology and oceanography and a professor in SCMSS at CCU; Tingzhuang Yan, a meteorological oceanographer with a background in statistical modeling of climate and weather systems and a Burroughs & Chapin Research Scholar in SCMSS at CCU; and Paul Gayes, longtime CCU professor and director of SCMSS.


The Hurricane Seasonal Outlook is a greatly advanced version of the model system developed in Yan’s Ph.D. dissertation in 2006 at North Carolina State University and funded through a grant from the NOAA Coastal Services Center in Charleston, the National Research Council and the NOAA National Centers for Environmental Prediction. The individual hurricane track and intensification and landfall surge and flooding model system is based on the interactively coupled model system developed by Bao and Pietrafesa under prior NOAA funding through the NOAA Coastal Services Center in Charleston.


For more information about CCU’s HUGO Project, contact Pietrafesa at 843-349-4017 or 704-910-7047 or email The HUGO Project website is at