Education — 11 April 2008 — by Adele Ramos
Latest predictions from the Colorado State University (Fort Collins) team of Professor William Gray and Dr. Phil Klotzbach indicate that this year will see yet another active hurricane season, possibly with as many as 15 named storms.
“The team’s forecast now anticipates 15 named storms forming in the Atlantic basin between June 1 and Nov. 30,” says a news release issued by the university today. “Eight of the storms are predicted to become hurricanes, and of those eight, four are expected to develop into intense or major hurricanes (Saffir-Simpson category 3-4-5) with sustained winds of 111 mph or greater.”
According to the team, long-term averages are 9.6 named storms, 5.9 hurricanes and 2.3 intense hurricanes per year.
“The Colorado State University forecast team upgraded its early season forecast today from the Bahamas Weather Conference, saying the U.S. Atlantic basin will likely experience a well above-average hurricane season,” the release continued.
“Current oceanic and atmospheric trends indicate that we will likely have an active Atlantic basin hurricane season,” said William Gray, who is beginning his 25th year forecasting hurricanes at Colorado State University.
The release goes on to quote Dr. Phil as saying that, “We are calling for a very active hurricane season this year, but not as active as the 2004 and 2005 seasons.”
Just as last year, the team indicates that conditions prevailing in the Atlantic basin are favorable for an active season.
“The current sea surface temperature pattern in the Atlantic – prevalent in most years since 1995 – is a pattern typically observed before very active seasons,” it added. “Warm sea surface temperatures are likely to continue being present in the tropical and North Atlantic zones during 2008 because of a positive phase of the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation (AMO).
“Also, the currently observed weak Azores High will likely promote weaker-than-normal trade winds over the next few months.”
A neutral or weak La Niña in the tropical Pacific, combined with a predicted warm north and tropical Atlantic, is a recipe for enhanced Atlantic basin hurricane activity, the team further explains.
“These factors are similar to conditions that occurred during the 1950, 1989, 1999, and 2000 seasons. The average of these four seasons had well above-average activity,” the release elaborates.
Still, the season won’t be as active as 2005. The report says that predicted tropical cyclone activity in 2008 will be 160 percent of the average season, while in 2005, tropical cyclone activity was roughly 275 percent of the average season.
The CSU team updates its forecasts regularly, and more updates are expected on June 3, August 5, September 2 and October 1.
The 2007 hurricane season produced 14 named storms, 6 of them hurricanes, and two of them major hurricanes, category three or higher on the Saffir-Simpson Scale, reports the National Hurricane Center in last November’s report.
It adds that while the numbers of hurricanes and major hurricanes were near the long-term averages for a season, the number of named storms was slightly above average. The 2007 season had about 82 percent of the 1951-2000 median activity, the lowest observed since 2002.
Notably, both Dean and Felix, the two major hurricanes, both category 5, threatened Belize – Dean causing substantial damages to the northern part of the country. It was the first time two such hurricanes made landfall since records began in 1851.