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Hurricane season begins in two weeks, but hype season is in full swing

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Enlarge / Hurricane Maria closes in on Puerto Rico in 2017. (credit: NOAA)

After the hyperactive 2017 Atlantic hurricane season—certainly the busiest and most destructive since at least 2005, and among the top five in the historical record—coastal residents in the United States, Caribbean Islands, and Mexico are understandably wary of what lies ahead. The Atlantic season officially begins this year on June 1.

Unfortunately, there has been a lot of hype. Back in March, forecasts of severe doom and gloom went viral on Facebook (but had absolutely no credibility). More recently, some news publications have assessed the seasonal outlooks from various organizations and have sounded the alarm. For example, the widely read Guardian website predicted that this “Hurricane season may be even worse in 2018 after a harrowing 2017.”

That’s unlikely. Phil Klotzbach of Colorado State University, who produces the oldest and most widely recognized seasonal hurricane forecast, expressed dismay at this kind of reporting. “Yeah, that’s way too much hype,” he told Ars. “Even if our forecast is perfect, we predicted seven hurricanes versus climatology, which is six. So, nothing like what was predicted last year.”

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