Season’s greetings

From mentions on the morning news and items in today’s paper to press releases from insurance industry trade groups, there was no lack of attention given to the fact that today’s the start of the 2007 Atlantic hurricane season.

All of which suggests that last year’s relatively mild hurricane season has done nothing to dim the memory of the 2006 storm season, and that concerns over global climate change have many in the public at large, not simply insurance industry types or coastal property owners, anxiously watching to see how this season plays out.

Across the board, the forecast seems to be for an active season. Colorado State’s William Gray released his latest forecast yesterday predicting 17 named storms, nine of them hurricanes and five of those intense.

Cat modeller Risk Management Solutions Inc. released its own 2007 Hurricane Season Outlook today, noting that last year marked only the 12th time since 1950 that no hurricane made landfall in the U.S.

The RMS report notes the likelihood that last year’s El Nino event suppressed 2006 hurricane activity. Heading into this season, however, the risk modeller notes that the dissipation of last year’s El Nino coupled with the possible formation of a La Nina–an event that produces the opposite effects of an El Nino in terms of hurricane formation–suggest that this year should be an active one for hurricanes, as has generally been the norm since 1995.

RMS noted that debate continues over the cause of the increase in hurricane activity in recent years, with some attributing it to natural cyclical changes and others pointing to human influence on climate change.

Whatever the cause, though, the risk modeller points out that at its annual gathering of hurricane experts last September, the consensus was that the current period of elevated hurricane activity is expected to last “significantly longer” than the next five years.

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