Looking ahead to ’07 storm season

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DEC. 15 — Researchers atColorado State University say the 2007 hurricane season should have above-average activity.

Forecaster William Gray, with fellow researcher Philip Klotzbach, predicted last week that there will be 14 named storms next year, an Associated Press report says. Of the 14, three could be major hurricanes.

"Despite a fairly inactive 2006 hurricane season, we believe that the Atlantic basin is in an active hurricane cycle," Gray says in the report. The active cycle is expected to continue for another decade or two, he says.

Last May, the researchers predicted there would be 17 named storms during the 2006 season, and was downgraded in August to 15. The forecast was downgraded one more time to 11 in October. Gray’s team says an El Niño system contributed to the “calm” 2006 season, which saw no hurricanes hit the U.S. Atlantic coast — the 11th time that has happened since 1945.

The 2006 hurricane season was considered “near normal,” according to the news report. There were nine named storms and five hurricanes, two of them major.

In 2005, there were 28 named storms, the report says, including 15 hurricanes, four of which hit the U.S. The worst was Hurricane Katrina which ravaged parts of the GulfCoast.

The long-term average for the Atlantic season is 9.6 named storms, 5.9 hurricanes and 2.3 intense hurricanes per year.

Jason Fell