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Hurricane prediction adjusted upward

APRIL 5 — Researchers at ColoradoStateUniversitythis week increased their 2007 hurricane season prediction of 14 named storms, released last December, to 17.

Of the storms predicted, five are expected to develop into intense or major hurricanes (categories 3, 4 or 5 on the five-step Saffir-Simpson scale), forecaster William Gray, with fellow researcher Phillip Klotzbach, say in a news release. There is a 74-percent probability of a major hurricane making landfall in the United States.

“We are calling for a very active hurricane season this year, but not as active as the 2004 and 2005 seasons,” Klotzbach says in the release.

“The activity of [those] two years was unusual, but within the natural bounds of hurricane variation,” Gray says in the release. “Following the two very active seasons of 2004 and 2005, 2006 experienced slightly below-average activity with no landfalling hurricanes.”

The researchers attribute the “calm” 2006 season to an El Niño system that changed ocean conditions. There were nine named storms and five hurricanes, two of them major.

The researchers predict that there is a 50-percent chance that a major hurricane will make landfall on the East Coast, according to the news release. There is a 49-percent chance a major hurricane will make landfall on the Gulf Coast between the Florida Panhandle and Brownsville, Texas.

Jason Fell