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.


Greg Padgett
Greg Padgett
Media & Communications Strategist

Greg Padgett is the host of Disaster Recovery Roundtable and brings 25 years' experience as a journalist, emergency manager, crisis communicator, and host. From 1991 to 2001, he was a journalist and meteorologist with several TV stations across the southeast U.S. He holds the American Meteorological Society's and National Weather Association's Broadcast Seals of Approval. He previously served as Natural Hazards Program Manager for the Georgia Emergency Management Agency, overseeing the development of the state's hurricane, severe weather, flood, and earthquake response plans. He has organized statewide media tours, supported public information officer training, and provided technical assistance in developing response plans and Whole Community preparedness campaigns for local jurisdictions. He also served as an on-air meteorologist for the Weather Channel's Radio Network from 2002 to 2007. He is a past recipient of the National Weather Association's Broadcaster of the Year award.


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

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