Currently, we're only able to predict the next year in hurricanes with any accuracy. But a new system that incorporates 35 years worth of hurricane data has found patterns that could predict hurricanes a decade in advance.
UK researcher Doug Smith used a computer model known as DePreSys, which is currently used to make general predictions about hurricanes for the next decade. He gave the model more specific hurricane data from the 1960 to 1995 seasons, such as the temperature of the ocean, wind speeds, and air pressure.
He then used these numbers to predict what the hurricane seasons would look like ten years in the future - which, because he was using historical data, meant he was really asking DePreSys to predict the 2005 hurricane season. The model was accurate to within 19% of the actual historical figures. That's not perfect, obviously, but even being able to give relatively general advance warning of severe hurricanes should help save lives. Smith is now putting together the more recent data that should allow DePreSys to predict what hurricanes will look like between 2011 and 2020.