Wednesday, June 2, 2010

All signs, and forecasts, point to active season

Just as their federal government counterparts did last week, forecasters at Colorado State University on Wednesday predicted an active hurricane season.

They expect 18 named storms to develop in the Atlantic, including 10 hurricanes. Five are expected to be major, and there's an above-average probability of a major storm, one with sustained winds of at least 111 mph, hitting land in the United States or Caribbean.

The CSU forecast has worsened since April, when 15 named storms and eight hurricanes were predicted.
Why the uptick? Much warmer tropical Atlantic surface temperatures and cooling Pacific conditions.
While the hurricane season officially started Tuesday, major storms still aren't likely for another 2 1/2 to 3 months.
According to well-known researcher William Gray and his colleagues, there's a 51 percent chance of a major hurricane hitting the Gulf Coast, which is greater than the long-term average of 30 percent.
Gray said there have been some similarities between the lead-up to this hurricane season and other big hurricane years, including 2005 when Hurricane Katrina hit.

Last week, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration predicted 14 to 23 tropical storms this year, including up to seven major hurricanes.

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