Kickoff to Hurricane Season 2020: A discussion with the leading hurricane season forecaster

Episode #3

The Tropical Meteorology Project at Colorado State University has been releasing a seasonal hurricane forecast every year since 1984 under Dr. William Gray. Dr. Phil Klotzbach currently leads the research program and is well known among the emergency management community for his annual forecasts. Dr. Klotzbach will share details of his first released forecast of the season and indications on how the forecast might be changing on the eve of an updated forecast, which will be released by Colorado State on June 4, 2020.

Although the official start to hurricane season was on June 1, storms had already formed by the end of May, with Tropical Storm Cristobal forming on June 2 – the earliest third named storm on record in the Tropical Atlantic Basin. Dr. Phil Klotzbach will share how atmospheric factors influence the annual seasonal forecast and will provide clues on whether the April forecast numbers will change due to the early activity. Dr. Klotzbach will also reinforce why the emergency management community will need to take COVID-19 into consideration as they prepare for the season.

Key Takeaways

  • [01:10] Can you share with our listeners how your program started and why Colorado State started producing these seasonal hurricane forecasts?
  • [02:58] What is the season looking like for 2020?
  • [03:33] Will the forecast automatically go up?
  • [06:25] It’s hard to emphasize that the numbers don’t always relate to impacts from devastating storms. How do you communicate the risks are still there, even if the forecast numbers are below average?
  • [09:25] For the emergency manager listening, what message do you have for them?
  • [10:45] If Bill Gray was with us today, what would be most interesting to him related to the research you are now doing?
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klotzbach formal 2019
Dr. Phil Klotzbach
Research Scientist
Colorado State University

Phil Klotzbach is a Research Scientist in the Department of Atmospheric Science at Colorado State University. He received his Ph.D. in Atmospheric Science from CSU in 2007. Klotzbach has been employed in the Department of Atmospheric Science for the past 20 years and was co-author on the Atlantic Basin hurricane forecasts with Dr. William Gray through 2005. He became first author on the seasonal hurricane forecasts in 2006. Klotzbach developed the two-week forecasts currently being issued during the peak months of the hurricane season between August-October. He has authored over 50 articles in peer-reviewed journals such as Journal of Climate and Weather and Forecasting.


To see the latest forecast from Colorado State’s Tropical Meteorology Project, visit