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Forecasters Up Hurricane Prediction to 17 Named Storms

Aug. 5, 2008 — Warm sea temperatures and low sea-level pressures in June and July, combined with an active early hurricane season in the deep tropics, have convinced Colorado State University hurricane forecasters Philip Klotzbach and William Gray to up the numbers in their August prediction.
They now think 17 named storms will form in the 2008 hurricane season, up by two from their June 3 forecast of 15.
They think nine will become hurricanes, with five reaching intense hurricane status with winds of 111 mph or more. The June 3 forecast called for eight named and four intense storms.
"We expect the Atlantic basin tropical cyclone season will be very active with activity that is about 190 percent of the long-term average," Gray said in a news release.
The long-term average is 9.6 named storms, 5.9 hurricanes and 2.3 intense hurricanes.
The hurricane forecasters also issued a forecast for hurricane activity in August. The monthly forecasts use different parameters than the seasonal forecasts to predict storm activity within shorter time periods.
For the month of August, the team expects four named storms, three hurricanes and one intense hurricane for the Atlantic basin. This activity is approximately 180 percent of the average activity expected during the month of August.
"The same factors that make individual months active or inactive are often not the same factors that make the entire season active or inactive," Klotzbach said.
Klotzbach is concerned about the continued ocean-surface warming in the eastern and central tropical Pacific.
"Although it seems unlikely at this point, there is a possibility that a weak El Nino could develop by the latter part of the hurricane season," Klotzbach said. "If this happened, it would likely reduce the number of late season tropical cyclones."
On the local front, V.I. Territorial Emergency Management Director Mark Walters reminded residents that it only takes one storm hitting the territory for it to be a bad year.
While Walters said it will take the federal government two to three days after the storm passes to bring in food and commodities, residents should be prepared to be self-sufficient for a longer period.
"Prepare for the worst and hope for the best," he said.
Klotzbach and Gray aren't always on the mark when it comes to forecasting the number of named storms, but Walters sees their predictions as a good tool for increasing public awareness about hurricanes.
So far this season, five storms have formed. They include Hurricane Bertha, which was the longest-lived tropical cyclone that has ever formed during July, and Hurricane Dolly, which made landfall in south Texas July 23 as a Category 2 hurricane.
This is Colorado State's 25th year of issuing early August forecasts. The team has correctly predicted an above- or below-average season in 21 of 24 years for named storms, and 17 of 24 years for hurricanes in their early August forecasts.
The forecast also calls for above-average major hurricane landfall risk in the Caribbean.
Klotzbach and Gray said there is a 67 percent chance of an intense hurricane hitting somewhere along the U.S. coastline. The long-term average is 52 percent.
The United States has been fortunate over the past few decades in experiencing only a few major hurricanes making landfall in Florida and along the East Coast, Gray said. Between 1995 and 2003, 122 named storms, 69 hurricanes and 32 major hurricanes formed in the Atlantic basin. During that period, only three of the 32 major hurricanes — Opal, Bret and Fran — crossed the U.S. coastline. Based on historical averages, about one in 3.5 major hurricanes comes ashore in the United States.
In 2004 and 2005, 13 major hurricanes formed in the Atlantic basin — seven of them striking the U.S. coast. In 2004, Hurricanes Charley, Ivan and Jeanne made landfall, followed in 2005 by Dennis, Katrina, Rita and Wilma.
"Those years were anomalies," Gray said. "We are in an active cycle in the Atlantic basin that is expected to last another 15 to 20 years. We believe this is part of a natural ocean cycle and is not the result of human-induced increases in atmospheric carbon dioxide."
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Aug. 5, 2008 -- Warm sea temperatures and low sea-level pressures in June and July, combined with an active early hurricane season in the deep tropics, have convinced Colorado State University hurricane forecasters Philip Klotzbach and William Gray to up the numbers in their August prediction.
They now think 17 named storms will form in the 2008 hurricane season, up by two from their June 3 forecast of 15.
They think nine will become hurricanes, with five reaching intense hurricane status with winds of 111 mph or more. The June 3 forecast called for eight named and four intense storms.
"We expect the Atlantic basin tropical cyclone season will be very active with activity that is about 190 percent of the long-term average," Gray said in a news release.
The long-term average is 9.6 named storms, 5.9 hurricanes and 2.3 intense hurricanes.
The hurricane forecasters also issued a forecast for hurricane activity in August. The monthly forecasts use different parameters than the seasonal forecasts to predict storm activity within shorter time periods.
For the month of August, the team expects four named storms, three hurricanes and one intense hurricane for the Atlantic basin. This activity is approximately 180 percent of the average activity expected during the month of August.
"The same factors that make individual months active or inactive are often not the same factors that make the entire season active or inactive," Klotzbach said.
Klotzbach is concerned about the continued ocean-surface warming in the eastern and central tropical Pacific.
"Although it seems unlikely at this point, there is a possibility that a weak El Nino could develop by the latter part of the hurricane season," Klotzbach said. "If this happened, it would likely reduce the number of late season tropical cyclones."
On the local front, V.I. Territorial Emergency Management Director Mark Walters reminded residents that it only takes one storm hitting the territory for it to be a bad year.
While Walters said it will take the federal government two to three days after the storm passes to bring in food and commodities, residents should be prepared to be self-sufficient for a longer period.
"Prepare for the worst and hope for the best," he said.
Klotzbach and Gray aren't always on the mark when it comes to forecasting the number of named storms, but Walters sees their predictions as a good tool for increasing public awareness about hurricanes.
So far this season, five storms have formed. They include Hurricane Bertha, which was the longest-lived tropical cyclone that has ever formed during July, and Hurricane Dolly, which made landfall in south Texas July 23 as a Category 2 hurricane.
This is Colorado State's 25th year of issuing early August forecasts. The team has correctly predicted an above- or below-average season in 21 of 24 years for named storms, and 17 of 24 years for hurricanes in their early August forecasts.
The forecast also calls for above-average major hurricane landfall risk in the Caribbean.
Klotzbach and Gray said there is a 67 percent chance of an intense hurricane hitting somewhere along the U.S. coastline. The long-term average is 52 percent.
The United States has been fortunate over the past few decades in experiencing only a few major hurricanes making landfall in Florida and along the East Coast, Gray said. Between 1995 and 2003, 122 named storms, 69 hurricanes and 32 major hurricanes formed in the Atlantic basin. During that period, only three of the 32 major hurricanes -- Opal, Bret and Fran -- crossed the U.S. coastline. Based on historical averages, about one in 3.5 major hurricanes comes ashore in the United States.
In 2004 and 2005, 13 major hurricanes formed in the Atlantic basin -- seven of them striking the U.S. coast. In 2004, Hurricanes Charley, Ivan and Jeanne made landfall, followed in 2005 by Dennis, Katrina, Rita and Wilma.
"Those years were anomalies," Gray said. "We are in an active cycle in the Atlantic basin that is expected to last another 15 to 20 years. We believe this is part of a natural ocean cycle and is not the result of human-induced increases in atmospheric carbon dioxide."
Back Talk Share your reaction to this news with other Source readers. Please include headline, your name and city and state/country or island where you reside.