We are surprisingly bad at it:
Although last year was quieter than anticipated and the storms of 2005 caused the Weather Service to raise its prediction, the number of tropical storms predicted in May was within the expected range in 1999, 2000, 2002 and 2004.
The forecast was low in 2001 and 2003.
Got that? Since 1999, the Weather Service was relatively accurate only half the time (1999, 2000, 2002, 2004). It was inaccurate in 2001, 2003, 2005 and 2006. Maybe we should 1) rethink the models or 2) not put too much stock in these meteorological predictions.
This study may help explain why our current storm models are flawed:
Over the last 5,000 years, the eastern Caribbean has experienced several periods, lasting centuries, in which strong hurricanes occurred frequently even though ocean temperatures were cooler than those
The authors, from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, say their findings do not necessarily conflict with recent papers asserting a link between the region’s hurricane activity and human-caused warming of the climate and seas.
But, they say, their work does imply that factors other than ocean temperature, at least for thousands of years, appear to have played a pivotal role in shaping storminess in the region.
For more on this subject, check out Useless Arithmetic: Why Environmental Scientists Can’t Predict the Future. It’s a surprisingly readable take, written by two respected scientists, on the limits of quantitative modeling.