Three out of three forecasters agree: The 2013 hurricane season is shaping up to be an active one. Weather expert Jeff Masters reports on the consensus in his blog at the Weather Underground ("Active 2013 Atlantic Hurricane Season Expected by CSU, TSR, and WSI," by Jeff Masters).

The latest team to weigh in is based at the University of Colorado. Writes Masters: "After three consecutive years with a remarkable 19 named storms in the Atlantic, expect another Atlantic hurricane season with similar levels of activity in 2013, says the hurricane forecasting team of Dr. Phil Klotzbach and Dr. Bill Gray of Colorado State University (CSU) in their latest seasonal forecast issued April 10. They call for an Atlantic hurricane season with 18 named storms, 9 hurricanes, 4 intense hurricanes, and an Accumulated Cyclone Energy (ACE) of 165." The researchers estimate a 48% chance of a major hurricane making landfall on the East Coast, and a 47% chance of a strike on the Gulf coast.

The private British forecasting firm Tropical Storm Risk, Inc. (TSR) also calls for an active season, Masters reports (15 named storms, 8 hurricanes, 3 intense hurricanes, and an Accumulated Cyclone Energy (ACE) of 131). And private firm WSI has a similar estimate: 16 named storms, 9 hurricanes, and 5 intense hurricanes.

The methods used to construct these early spring forecasts are imprecise, notes Masters. "The next CSU forecast, due on Monday, June 3, is the one worth paying attention to," he says: "Their early June forecasts have shown considerable skill over the years." But in any case, as National Hurricane Center spokesman Frank Lepore noted back in 2005, "We don't get really too excited about these numbers, because it only takes one to ruin your day."

The year Lepore made that comment, however, predictions did come true — and with devastating results. The National Hurricane Center's May prediction for 2005 called for seven to nine hurricanes, including three to five major hurricanes. As it turned out, Wikipedia remembers, "The 2005 Atlantic hurricane season was the most active Atlantic hurricane season in recorded history, shattering numerous records. The impact of the season was widespread and ruinous with an estimated 3,913 deaths and record damage of about $159.2 billion. Of the storms that made landfall, five of the season's seven major hurricanes—Dennis, Emily, Katrina, Rita, and Wilma—were responsible for most of the destruction."