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Forecasters: Conditions ripe for busy hurricane season

The Colorado State University forecast team predicts an above-average 2010 Atlantic basin hurricane season based on the premise that El Niño conditions will dissipate by this summer and that warm tropical Atlantic sea surface temperatures will persist.

The team predicts 15 named storms to form in the Atlantic basin between June 1 and Nov. 30 with eight expected to be hurricanes and four developing into major hurricanes, with sustained winds of 111 mph or greater.

"We expect current moderate El Niño conditions to transition to neutral conditions by this year's hurricane season," said Phil Klotzbach, lead forecaster on the CSU hurricane forecast team, in a statement. "The dissipating El Niño, along with the expected anomalously warm Atlantic ocean sea surface temperatures, will lead to favorable dynamic and thermodynamic conditions for hurricane formation and intensification."

The 2010 forecast marks 27 years of hurricane forecasting at Colorado State, led by William Gray. The hurricane forecast team makes its predictions based on 58 years of historical data.

"Based on our latest forecast, the probability of a major hurricane making landfall along the U.S. coastline is 69 percent compared with the last-century average of 52 percent," Gray said in a statement. "While patterns may change before the start of hurricane season, we believe current conditions warrant concern for an above-average season."

The team predicts tropical cyclone activity in 2010 will be 160 percent of the average season. By comparison, 2009 witnessed tropical cyclone activity that was about 70 percent of the average season.

The hurricane forecast team's probabilities for a major hurricane making landfall on U.S. soil are as follows:

  • A 69 percent chance that at least one major hurricane will make landfall on the U.S. coastline in 2010.
  • A 45 percent chance that a major hurricane will make landfall on the U.S. East Coast, including the Florida Peninsula.
  • A 44 percent chance that a major hurricane will make landfall on the Gulf Coast from the Florida Panhandle west to Brownsville, Texas.

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