Florida Hurricane Expert: 75 Percent Chance State Gets Hit This Year

It's been nine years since the double-whammy of Katrina and Wilma walloped Miami, and the Magic City has coasted through every hurricane season since without a scratch. Most weather experts have predicted more of the same this year, with another strong El Niño system tamping down tropical storms.

But one Florida-based expert thinks otherwise. Ocala's David Dilley, who runs a computer-modeling service, predicts a 75 percent chance that the Sunshine State will get a landfall this year.

Dilley, a former NOAA forecaster who now runs a firm called Global Weather Oscillations, says his computer modeling relies on longer yearly cycles than other, shorter-term predictions.

Those models, the meteorologist says in a news release this week, predict a stronger hurricane season with a likely Florida landfall. "The upcoming season will be stronger and more dangerous, an about-face from 2013," Dilley writes.

Of course that forecast flies in the face of all the other major hurricane predictions out there this year.

NOAA has predicted a "near-normal" or "below-normal" season, with El Niño once again heating up the Pacific and creating wind shear over the Atlantic that tears up hurricanes. The government agency says it expects between eight and 13 named storms, three to six hurricanes, and one or two major hurricanes.

That's a view shared by prominent forecasters at North Carolina State and Colorado State, who each have forecast a sleepier than usual 'cane season.

But Dilley says his modeling differs by forecasting seasons up to four years in advance, a method that correctly predicted last year's slow season. He's calling for up to 17 named storms, eight hurricanes, and three major hurricanes.

It's a methodology other experts aren't totally on board with.

"I would be very skeptical of any model that claims four years of weather prediction skill," Colorado State's Phil Klotzbach tells the Ocala Star Banner. "Our seasonal forecast model indicates a relatively quiet season is probably in store, which would reduce the odds of a Florida landfall."

Then again, the experts got it dead wrong by predicting a busy hurricane season last year, when 2013 turned out to be the slowest in more than a decade.

Either way, with hurricane season kicking off this weekend, it's time to stock up on bottled water, granola bars, and emergency vodka rations, Miami.

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Tim Elfrink is a former investigative reporter and managing editor for Miami New Times. He has won the George Polk Award and was a finalist for the Goldsmith Prize for Investigative Reporting.
Contact: Tim Elfrink