Day 2 of the Winter Summit in Steamboat was spearheaded by Stanley Goldenberg. Stan is head of NOAA's Hurricane Research Division. He has flown 100 flights in a P3 hurricane hunter and continued his research in improving hurricane forecast and models.
The years of 1995-2005 have experienced the highest level of North Atlantic hurricane activity in the reliable record. Compared with the generally low activity of the previous 24 years (1971-1994), the last 11 years doubling of overall activity of the basin, a 2.5-fold increase in major hurricanes and a five fold increase in hurricanes affecting the Caribbean region. As for the increase in major hurricane activity, this is not implying the basin is seeing stronger hurricanes, but rather more of them. This is very similar to what we saw this past hurricane season with 19 named storms, but only 1 major hurricane and only 2 landfalling hurricanes in the lower 48.
The greater activity results from simultaneous increases in North Atlantic sea-surface temperatures and decreases in vertical wind shear which favors hurricane development and intensification.
An additional impact of the shift in activity has been a dramatic increase in October hurricanes (especially major hurricanes) activity. During the years of 1965-1994, there were only 2 major hurricanes that developed after the past couple of days of October. From 1995-2005, there have been 10 late season major hurricanes.
Of course one of the worst late season hurricanes was Sandy which collided with a cold front that caused this storm to basically explode and turn into a "sped-storm".
Not only is fire season getting longer, but so is hurricane season. More storm forming earlier, for example, in May. And some storms forming in late October and even November. The belief, according to Goldenberg, is due to climate variation. The earth has been getting warmer and with the polar ice caps melting, more fresh water is added into the ocean increasing water levels. This is just one of the many reasons why the storm surge was higher than normal for a catrgory 1 hurricane in Sandy.
The National Hurricane Center will release their forecast for the 2013 hurricane season in late May.