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XL Catlin assist with new hurricane website

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Storm news: clouds associated with a hurricane blanket the sky above Florida in this file picture. XL Catlin has sponsored a new hurricane data website (Photograph by Stephen Morton/Bloomberg News)

Insurance and reinsurance giant XL Catlin has joined forces with international academics and computer experts to better track hurricane forecasts and the evolution of major storms.

A new website, set up with the Barcelona Supercomputing Centre and Colorado State University, brings together forecasts from specialists in Atlantic hurricanes to boost knowledge of the factors that contribute to storm formation and to explain how different forecast models produce different predictions.

The seasonal hurricane predictions website pools predictions by university, government and private entities that carry out forecasting for the hurricane season and makes them available to the public.

Bermudian-based XL Catlin said: “Using these predictions, the website shows the average number of hurricanes that are expected to affect the North Atlantic and those that have already occurred in the current season and the previous ones since 1966.

“A colour code indicates the degree of activity forecast for the upcoming hurricane season.

“The website offers areas for non-specialists as well as more detailed information on each of the available forecasts.

“The site also provides and explanation for the general public on several climatic factors that influence hurricane activity in the Atlantic, as well as the aspects assigned greater importance by different predictions for the current hurricane season.

“The objective of this section is to help people understand hurricane variability and why there could be divergent predictions for the upcoming season.”

The site, sponsored by XL Catlin, was developed by the Barcelona centre, and Colorado State, who jointly carried out the scientific work and graphic designer Isklam Jara, who was responsible for the site’s design and implementation.

And it hosts a total of 16 forecasting centres, including the US, Caribbean and Europe, as well as Mexico.

Forecasters featured include America’s AccuWeather, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and several US universities.

It also includes the UK Met Office, Mexico’s national meteorology centre, the Cuban institute for meteorology and StormGeo, based in Norway.

This year’s Atlantic hurricane season has seen only one hurricane to date, although forecasters are predicting a total of eight.

Hurricane Earl, which is headed for Belize, yesterday became the second hurricane of the season with a prediction that it would weaken when it reaches the coast and moves inland.

The Barcelona Supercomputing Centre is the Spanish national supercomputing centre. It was set up to create infrastructure and supercomputing services to European scientists and to transfer knowledge and technology to business and society.

Colorado State University pioneered seasonal hurricane predictions for the Atlantic basin and has issued its annual predictions for more than 30 years.

The Seasonal Hurricane Predictions website can be found at http://www.bsc.es/ESS/seasonalhurricanepredictions/

Wide reach: the XL Catlin-sponsored Seasonal Hurricane Predictions website shows data from a wide variety of forecast services and centres