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Colorado State University Forecasters Predict Above-Average 2010 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 anomalously warm tropical Atlantic sea surface temperatures will persist.

The team predicts 15 named storms to form in the Atlantic basin between 1 June and 30 November, with eight expected to be hurricanes and four developing into major hurricanes (Saffir/Simpson category 3-4-5) with sustained winds of 111 mph or greater. Long-term averages are 9.6 named storms, 5.9 hurricanes and 2.3 major hurricanes per year.

We expect current moderate El Niño conditions to transition to neutral conditions by this year’s hurricane season. 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.

—Phil Klotzbach, lead forecaster on the CSU Hurricane Forecast Team

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 US coastline is 69% compared with the last-century average of 52%. While patterns may change before the start of hurricane season, we believe current conditions warrant concern for an above-average season.

—William Gray

Precursor factors to this year have a number of similarities to early April conditions that preceded the hurricane years of 1958, 1966, 1969, 1998 and 2005 (the last, the year of Hurricane Katrina). All five of these seasons had above-average activity, especially the seasons of 1969, 1998 and 2005. Klotzbach and Gray predict the 2010 season will have slightly less activity than the average of these five earlier years.

The team predicts tropical cyclone activity in 2010 will be 160% of the average season. By comparison, 2009 witnessed tropical cyclone activity that was about 70% of the average season. The hurricane forecast team’s probabilities for a major hurricane making landfall on US soil are as follows:

  • A 69% chance that at least one major hurricane will make landfall on the US coastline in 2010 (the long-term average probability is 52%).
  • A 45% chance that a major hurricane will make landfall on the US East Coast, including the Florida Peninsula (the long-term average is 31%).
  • A 44% chance that a major hurricane will make landfall on the Gulf Coast from the Florida Panhandle west to Brownsville (the long-term average is 30%).
  • A 58% chance of a major hurricane tracking into the Caribbean (the long-term average is 42%).

The hurricane team’s forecasts are based on the premise that global oceanic and atmospheric conditions—such as El Niño, sea surface temperatures and sea level pressures—that preceded active or inactive hurricane seasons in the past provide meaningful information about similar trends in future seasons. The team began using a new early April statistical model in 2008.

We have found that using two late-winter predictors and our early December hindcast, we can obtain early April predictions that show considerable hindcast skill over the period from 1950-2007. This new forecast model also provided a very accurate prediction over the past few seasons.

—Phil Klotzbach

Probabilities of tropical storm-force, hurricane-force and major hurricane-force winds occurring at specific locations along the US East and Gulf Coasts within a variety of time periods are listed on the forecast team’s Landfall Probability website. The site provides US landfall probabilities for 11 regions and 205 individual counties along the US coastline from Brownsville, Texas, to Eastport, Maine. The website is the first publicly accessible Internet tool that adjusts landfall probabilities for regions and counties based on the current climate and its projected effects on the upcoming hurricane season.

Probabilities are also available for all islands in the Caribbean and countries in Central America. Klotzbach and Gray update the site regularly with assistance from the GeoGraphics Laboratory at Bridgewater State College in Massachusetts.

The team will issue forecast updates on 2 June and 4 August.



Aaron Turpen

Of course, they're forecast for last year's hurricane season at this time was completely off, which they later face-saved by correcting in the August report and then claiming in their December report that they were "on target."


None of which has anything to do with CARS.


Yeah, last year was totally wrong.
That's why i say climate models are a joke (at present). Someday they will be better, but today that are guesses based upon too little info.


"That's why i say climate models are a joke..."

And laughter is very healthy for humans being. But nothing to do with green cars.


I'm no climatological expert (except in comparison to the East Anglia CRU), but last time I checked El Nino was an equatorial Pacific Ocean weather event.


And I like cars, green or otherwise.


RIFF, yes, it's a Pacific phenomenon but it effects air movement across the continent, which can shear apart hurricanes and prevent them from forming.

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