Predictions Are Hard, Especially About the Future

A dire warning issued today from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration:

An "active to extremely active" hurricane season is expected for the Atlantic Basin this year according to the seasonal outlook issued today by NOAA's Climate Prediction Center - a division of the National Weather Service.
Oh oh. But wait. They've been doing this for a while.

Here's their May 2009 prediction:

NOAA forecasters say a near-normal Atlantic hurricane season is most likely this year.
But in November's 2009 season wrapup:
The 2009 Atlantic hurricane season officially ends today marking the close of a season with the fewest named storms and hurricanes since 1997 thanks, in part, to El Niño.
Well, how about 2008? May Prediction:
NOAA's Climate Prediction Center today announced that projected climate conditions point to a near normal or above normal hurricane season in the Atlantic Basin this year.
… and November summary:
The 2008 Atlantic Hurricane Season officially comes to a close on Sunday, marking the end of a season that produced a record number of consecutive storms to strike the United States and ranks as one of the more active seasons in the 64 years since comprehensive records began.
May 2007 prediction:
Experts at the NOAA Climate Prediction Center are projecting a 75 percent chance that the Atlantic Hurricane Season will be above normal this year--showing the ongoing active hurricane era remains strong.
November 2007 summary:
As the 2007 Atlantic hurricane season officially comes to a close on November 30, NOAA scientists are carefully reviewing a set of dynamic weather patterns that yielded lower-than-expected hurricane activity across the Atlantic Basin. As a result, the United States was largely spared from significant landfalling storms.
May 2006 prediction:
The Commerce Department's National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration today announced to America and its neighbors throughout the north Atlantic region that a very active hurricane season is looming, and encouraged individuals to make preparations to better protect their lives and livelihoods.
November 2006 summary:
As the 2006 Atlantic hurricane season comes to a close today, NOAA scientists announced that seasonal activity was lower than expected due to the rapid development of El Niño - a periodic warming of the ocean waters in the central and eastern equatorial Pacific which influences pressure and wind patterns across the tropical Atlantic.
May 2005 prediction:
Hurricane forecasters with NOAA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, are predicting another above-normal hurricane season on the heels of last year's destructive and historic hurricane season.
November 2005 summary:
The 2005 Atlantic hurricane season is the busiest on record and extends the active hurricane cycle that began in 1995 -- a trend likely to continue for years to come.
Summary: Too-pessimistic forecasts in 2009, 2007, and 2006. Arguably too optimistic in 2008. About right in 2005 (Katrina's year), but wrong in predicting that high activity would "continue for years to come".

This is not much to brag about. When you're only asked to predict "Above average", "Average", or "Below Average", you'd expect to be right 33% of time by just guessing. (And note that, even by that standard, NOAA fudged a bit on their 2008 prediction: "near normal or above normal".)

Nevertheless, it's never a bad idea to be prepared. Here is the official National Hurricane Preparedness Week website.