Hurricane season predictions released

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The hurricane forecasting team at Colorado State University is predicting an above-average 2011 Atlantic hurricane season.

The team slightly reduced its early December prediction, but still called for an active season, based on current La Niña conditions that are expected to transition to near-neutral conditions during the heart of the hurricane season.

The team now calls for 16 named storms, instead of 17, to form in the Atlantic basin between June 1 and Nov. 30. Nine of those are expected to turn into hurricanes, with five developing into major hurricanes with sustained winds of 111 mph or greater.

"We expect that anomalously warm tropical Atlantic sea surface temperatures, combined with neutral tropical Pacific sea surface temperatures, will contribute to an active season," said Phil Klotzbach, of the university's Tropical Meteorology Project, in a statement. "We have reduced our forecast slightly from early December due to a combination of recent ocean warming in the eastern and central tropical Pacific and recent cooling in the tropical Atlantic."

The team predicts that tropical cyclone activity in 2011 will be about 175 percent of the average season. By comparison, 2010 had tropical cyclone activity that was 196 percent of the average season.

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

  • A 72 percent chance that at least one major hurricane will make landfall on the U.S. coastline in 2011 (the long-term average probability is 52 percent).
  • A 48 percent chance that a major hurricane will make landfall on the U.S. East Coast, including the Florida Peninsula (the long-term average is 31 percent).
  • A 47 percent chance that a major hurricane will make landfall on the Gulf Coast from the Florida Panhandle west to Brownsville, Texas (the long-term average is 30 percent).

The team also predicts a 61 percent chance of a major hurricane tracking into the Caribbean (the long-term average is 42 percent).


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