Atlantic Hurricane Season Predicted to be Above-Average

by Armando Duke

Houston, TX - Scientists are predicting that this year will be an above-average hurricane season in the Atlantic, the fourth year in a row that the Atlantic basin will see a record number of storms.

Colorado State University scientists Philip Klotzbach and William Gray predict that the hurricane season will produce 9 hurricanes out of 17 named storms during the June through November period when the weather is most severe. The 2005 season produced a record 15 hurricanes and 27 named storms.

The scientists said that the water temperatures on the surface of the Atlantic Ocean are a major contributor to hurricanes and that the current climate signals show that this year is going to be severe.

The Fort Collins, Colorado-based scientists report issued today confirms an earlier report they released in December. The scientists said that five of the nine hurricanes will produce sustained winds of 111 miles per hour or more, making them major hurricanes on the five-step Saffir-Simpson scale.

Nine of the past eleven years the surface waters of the Atlantic have been above normal, creating more storms than is typical during the season. The scientists believe that this trend will continue for another 15 to 20 years. The 2003 and 2004 seasons generated seven hurricanes and nine hurricanes, respectively.

The scientists forecast that continued warm tropical and north Atlantic sea-surface temperatures, prevalent in most years since 1995, as well as neutral or weak La Nina conditions, are a recipe for greatly enhanced Atlantic basin hurricane activity.

La Nina refers to the cooling of ocean surface temperatures off the western coast of South America. The phenomenon affects the jet stream, alters storm tracks and creates unusual weather patterns. La Nina typically increases tropical activity in the Atlantic Ocean.

While the scientists are confident in the outcome of the number of storms to hit during the Atlantic hurricane season, one good thing is they do not believe as many of them will make landfall as during last year's hurricane season when four of them struck land; Dennis, Katrina, Rita and Wilma last year and Charley, Frances, Ivan and Jeanne in 2004. The scientists said that upper-air currents over the Atlantic were responsible for pushing the hurricanes towards land during those years.