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GRAY PREDICTS ABOVE-AVERAGE ACTIVITY IN 2002

Dec. 7, 2001 – Just days after late-season storm Olga finally dissipated east of the Bahamas, Colorado State University professor William Gray is out with his first 2002 forecast.
Gray is predicting 13 named storms, with eight growing into hurricanes. He and his team expect four to be major hurricanes with winds of 111 mph or more.
"This upcoming hurricane season appears to have to potential for continued above-average hurricane activity," Gray said in a news release. "We foresee an increased level of hurricanes forming in the deep tropics in 2002 and hurricane activity coming earlier than it did this year."
For 2001, Gray and his team of scientists predicted a dozen named storms, with seven of them becoming hurricanes. Three were expected to be intense. And the season ramped up rather late.
While storms usually start wending their way across the Atlantic in late July and August, most of activity happened this year in September through November. The first hurricane did not form until Sept. 8, which Gray said in his Nov. 20 2001 season wrap-up, was the latest forming hurricane since 1984. When he sent out his season assessment on Nov. 20, 10 days before the official end of the June 1 to Nov. 30 hurricane season, Mother Nature had one more surprise in store. Olga formed Nov. 24, and meandered around the Atlantic Ocean as a depression, tropical storm and hurricane before finally giving up on Dec. 4.
This brought the total for 2001 to 15 named storms, nine hurricanes and four intense hurricanes. None hit the territory, but some sent stormy weather to the islands.
Gray said an average season has 10 named storms, six hurricanes and two intense hurricanes.
He said the years 1995 to 2001 have been the seven consecutively most active on record.
During that time, 94 named storms, 58 hurricanes and 27 major hurricanes developed.
"It has been remarkable," he said.
Now in his 19th year of predicting storms, Gray said his team is using a new way to develop forecasts. It places more emphasis on circulation features of the middle latitudes while eliminating the African rainfall information because it has not proven to be a reliable forecast tool in recent years. The new forecast scheme continues to use the Quasi-biennial Oscillation, which is the equatorial east-west stratospheric winds that vary during a period of 26 to 30 months, measurement of the Atlantic sea surface temperature, and the 2002 El Nino prediction.
Gray said that over time, he has found that there are indeed meaningful multi- month and multi-season precursor signals that can be used to estimate future Atlantic basin hurricane activity and United States landfall probability. "We have always believed that the atmosphere will act in the future as it has in the past," Gray said. "This assumption can fail in some years, but when applied over a period of several years, we find that the atmosphere and ocean do indeed have a long period memory in most years."
He said he expects ongoing forecast research will continue to improve the team's prediction skills.
Gray said global warming has no impact on storm development. He said that major hurricanes account for only about one-quarter of all storms, but cause about 85 percent of all tropical cyclone-spawned destruction.
He said that although the United States has been lucky because only three major hurricanes hit the mainland, he expects a great increase in landfalls in the coming years.
"With such large coastal population growth in the United States in recent decades, it is inevitable that we will see hurricane-spawned destruction in coming years on a scale many times greater than what we have seen in the past."
While Gray does not predict the probability of a hurricane hitting a Caribbean island, he said that there is an 86 percent chance that one will hit the U.S. coastline in 2002. By comparison, he said that in the 1900s, the average probability stood at 52 percent. For the U.S. Gulf of Mexico coast, he put the probability at 43 percent, up 12 percent over the last century.
For the Florida Peninsula and the East Coast, the 2002 probability sits at 58 percent. In the 1900s, the number was 31 percent.
Gray and his team will reevaluate their 2002 predications in April, May and August. And for the first time, the team will issue monthly forecasts for August and September, usually the busiest months in the hurricane season.

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Dec. 7, 2001 – Just days after late-season storm Olga finally dissipated east of the Bahamas, Colorado State University professor William Gray is out with his first 2002 forecast.
Gray is predicting 13 named storms, with eight growing into hurricanes. He and his team expect four to be major hurricanes with winds of 111 mph or more.
"This upcoming hurricane season appears to have to potential for continued above-average hurricane activity," Gray said in a news release. "We foresee an increased level of hurricanes forming in the deep tropics in 2002 and hurricane activity coming earlier than it did this year."
For 2001, Gray and his team of scientists predicted a dozen named storms, with seven of them becoming hurricanes. Three were expected to be intense. And the season ramped up rather late.
While storms usually start wending their way across the Atlantic in late July and August, most of activity happened this year in September through November. The first hurricane did not form until Sept. 8, which Gray said in his Nov. 20 2001 season wrap-up, was the latest forming hurricane since 1984. When he sent out his season assessment on Nov. 20, 10 days before the official end of the June 1 to Nov. 30 hurricane season, Mother Nature had one more surprise in store. Olga formed Nov. 24, and meandered around the Atlantic Ocean as a depression, tropical storm and hurricane before finally giving up on Dec. 4.
This brought the total for 2001 to 15 named storms, nine hurricanes and four intense hurricanes. None hit the territory, but some sent stormy weather to the islands.
Gray said an average season has 10 named storms, six hurricanes and two intense hurricanes.
He said the years 1995 to 2001 have been the seven consecutively most active on record.
During that time, 94 named storms, 58 hurricanes and 27 major hurricanes developed.
"It has been remarkable," he said.
Now in his 19th year of predicting storms, Gray said his team is using a new way to develop forecasts. It places more emphasis on circulation features of the middle latitudes while eliminating the African rainfall information because it has not proven to be a reliable forecast tool in recent years. The new forecast scheme continues to use the Quasi-biennial Oscillation, which is the equatorial east-west stratospheric winds that vary during a period of 26 to 30 months, measurement of the Atlantic sea surface temperature, and the 2002 El Nino prediction.
Gray said that over time, he has found that there are indeed meaningful multi- month and multi-season precursor signals that can be used to estimate future Atlantic basin hurricane activity and United States landfall probability. "We have always believed that the atmosphere will act in the future as it has in the past," Gray said. "This assumption can fail in some years, but when applied over a period of several years, we find that the atmosphere and ocean do indeed have a long period memory in most years."
He said he expects ongoing forecast research will continue to improve the team's prediction skills.
Gray said global warming has no impact on storm development. He said that major hurricanes account for only about one-quarter of all storms, but cause about 85 percent of all tropical cyclone-spawned destruction.
He said that although the United States has been lucky because only three major hurricanes hit the mainland, he expects a great increase in landfalls in the coming years.
"With such large coastal population growth in the United States in recent decades, it is inevitable that we will see hurricane-spawned destruction in coming years on a scale many times greater than what we have seen in the past."
While Gray does not predict the probability of a hurricane hitting a Caribbean island, he said that there is an 86 percent chance that one will hit the U.S. coastline in 2002. By comparison, he said that in the 1900s, the average probability stood at 52 percent. For the U.S. Gulf of Mexico coast, he put the probability at 43 percent, up 12 percent over the last century.
For the Florida Peninsula and the East Coast, the 2002 probability sits at 58 percent. In the 1900s, the number was 31 percent.
Gray and his team will reevaluate their 2002 predications in April, May and August. And for the first time, the team will issue monthly forecasts for August and September, usually the busiest months in the hurricane season.