A well-known meteorologist is predicting that 17 named storms will form in the Atlantic Basin during the 2006 hurricane season, and the 2006 Atlantic hurricane season will be much more active than the average 1950-2000 season.
Prof. William M. Gray, Colorado State University meteorologist, also says there is an 81 percent probability that a major category three, four or five hurricane will make landfall somewhere on the U.S. coastline. The average probability during the last century has been 52 percent.
The probability of such a hurricane hitting the U.S. East Coast, including Pensacola, is 64 percent, while the average during the last century has been 31 percent.
The probability of a hurricane hitting the Gulf Coast, from the Florida Panhandle west to Brownsville, Texas, is 47 percent; the average during the last century was 30 percent.
The team of experts has also predicted an “above average” possibility of a major hurricane landfall risk in the Caribbean.
Gray, who has issued similar reports for 22 years, authored this latest report along with Prof. Philip J. Klotzbach, who will take over some of Gray’s duties.
The report estimates 2006 will have about nine hurricanes (average is 5.9), 17 named storms (average is 9.6), 85 named storm days (average is 49.1), 45 hurricane days (average is 24.5), 5 intense (Category 3-4-5) hurricanes (average is 2.3) and 13 intense hurricane days (average is 5.0).
The probability of U.S. major hurricane landfall is estimated to be about 55 percent above average. The scientists also expect the Atlantic basin Net Tropical Cyclone (NTC) activity in 2006 to be about 195 percent of the average.
This early April forecast is based on a newly devised extended range statistical forecast procedure which utilizes 52 years of past global reanalysis data. Analog predictors are also utilized.
“We have maintained our forecast from our early December prediction as the Atlantic Ocean, although cooling slightly with respect to climatology, remains anomalously warm and central and eastern tropical Pacific sea surface temperatures anomalies have continued to cool,” the report says. “Currently, weak La Niña conditions are observed. We expect either neutral or weak La Niña conditions to be present during the upcoming hurricane season.”
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