Posted: 11:07 am Wednesday, August 4th, 2010
By Eliot Kleinberg
The hurricane forecasting team at Colorado State University is sticking to its June prediction of 18 named storms, 10 hurricanes and 5 major hurricanes, of Category 3 or higher on the Saffir-Simpson scale. The historical 1950-2000 average is 9.6, 5.9 and 2.3.
In November 2009, the team had predicted a “well above average” 2010 season, with 11 to 16 named storms, six to eight hurricanes, and three to five major hurricanes. In April, it got more specific, calling for 15, eight and four. It then tweaked its forecast more in June.
For today’s update, the team continued to cite unusually warm tropical Atlantic sea surface temperatures and the development of La Niña, the opposite of El Niño, the warm water phenomenon that tends to hinder hurricane activity.
“We have witnessed the development of La Niña conditions over the past couple of months, and we believe that a moderate La Niña will be present over the next several months, which is associated with decreased levels of vertical wind shear and increased hurricane activity,” veteran forecaster William Gray said in a release.
Gray’s protege, Phil Klotzbach, also cited especially warm surface temperatures in both the tropics and the North Atlantic.
The team gave a 75 percent chance a major hurricane will strike somewhere along the 3,690-mile coastline from Maine to Florida to Texas; the 1950-2000 historical average is 52 percent.
Florida’s 1,350-mile coastline, from Jacksonville around to Pensacola, accounts for a little more than one third of that. And the 90 or so miles of coastline from Boca Raton to Fort Pierce represents about two percent of the total.
The Colorado State team gave a 50 percent chance a major hurricane will make landfall on the U.S. East Coast, including the Florida Peninsula; the long-term average is 31 percent.
The private forecasting company AccuWeather has reported its hurricane expert, Joe Bastardi, is expecting 16-18 named storms.
For the record, in 2009:
The Colorado State University team called for 14 named storms, of at least tropical storm strength, with seven becoming hurricanes and three of those major hurricanes.
NOAA predicted 14, four-to-seven, and one-to-three.
Accuweather.com predicted 13 storms, eight becoming hurricanes.
They all were pretty much off the mark. The season ended up with 9, 3 and 2.