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Hurricane Clusters in the Vicinity of Florida

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  • 1 Department of Geography, The Florida State University, Tallahassee, Florida
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Abstract

Models that predict annual U.S. hurricane activity assume a Poisson distribution for the counts. Here the authors show that this assumption applied to Florida hurricanes leads to a forecast that underpredicts both the number of years without hurricanes and the number of years with three or more hurricanes. The underdispersion in forecast counts arises from a tendency for hurricanes to arrive in groups along this part of the coastline. The authors then develop an extension to their earlier statistical model that assumes that the rate of hurricane clusters follows a Poisson distribution with cluster size capped at two hurricanes. Hindcasts from the cluster model better fit the distribution of Florida hurricanes conditional on the climate covariates including the North Atlantic Oscillation and Southern Oscillation index. Results are similar to models that parameterize the extra-Poisson variation in the observed counts, including the negative binomial and the Poisson inverse Gaussian models. The authors argue, however, that the cluster model is physically consistent with the way Florida hurricanes tend to arrive in groups.

Corresponding author address: Thomas H. Jagger, Dept. of Geography, Rm. 323, Bellamy Bldg., 113 Collegiate Loop, P.O. Box 3062190, The Florida State University, Tallahassee, FL 32306-2190. E-mail: tjagger@blarg.net

Abstract

Models that predict annual U.S. hurricane activity assume a Poisson distribution for the counts. Here the authors show that this assumption applied to Florida hurricanes leads to a forecast that underpredicts both the number of years without hurricanes and the number of years with three or more hurricanes. The underdispersion in forecast counts arises from a tendency for hurricanes to arrive in groups along this part of the coastline. The authors then develop an extension to their earlier statistical model that assumes that the rate of hurricane clusters follows a Poisson distribution with cluster size capped at two hurricanes. Hindcasts from the cluster model better fit the distribution of Florida hurricanes conditional on the climate covariates including the North Atlantic Oscillation and Southern Oscillation index. Results are similar to models that parameterize the extra-Poisson variation in the observed counts, including the negative binomial and the Poisson inverse Gaussian models. The authors argue, however, that the cluster model is physically consistent with the way Florida hurricanes tend to arrive in groups.

Corresponding author address: Thomas H. Jagger, Dept. of Geography, Rm. 323, Bellamy Bldg., 113 Collegiate Loop, P.O. Box 3062190, The Florida State University, Tallahassee, FL 32306-2190. E-mail: tjagger@blarg.net
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