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October 2, 2008

Hurricane forecasters predict an "active" October


The Atlantic is quiet for now, but people in hurricane country can expect three more named storms to form this month on top of the 12 we've already experienced this season, at least according to forecasters at Colorado State University.

The respected team of Phil Klotzbach and William Gray issued their late-season forecast yesterday, saying "Well above-average hurricane activity is expected for the month of October." They predict that two of the three storms that form in October will become hurricanes, and one will become a "major" (Cat. 3 or higher) hurricane. That means top sustained winds of 111 mph or more.

"We continue to observe low sea-level pressures and warm sea surface temperatures across the tropical Atlantic," Klotzbach said in a release issued from CSU. "A combination of these two factors typically leads to an active October. In addition, we continue to observe neutral ENSO [El Nino Southern Oscillation] conditions in the tropical Pacific, so we do not expect that ENSO conditions will be detrimental to this year's October activity."

William Gray added: "We predict that October will be quite active based on climate signals through September. There has been a strong clustering of hurricane activity around mid-July and late August/early September. We think we are now entering a new period of heightened activity that is likely to go for another two to three weeks."

Well, maybe so. But for now, the tropical Atlantic remains quiet. If we do see three more named storms, they will bear the names Marco, Nana and Omar. Somehow, Nana just doesn't seem like she will be much of a threat.

It has been a busy season so far, as Klotzbach, Gray and NOAA all predicted before the season began in June. It has also been deadly, with 860 deaths directly attributed to the storms.

July saw three named storms, including Bertha, which was the longest-lived July storm on record (July 3-20).  August was slightly more active than normal, with Gustav as the biggest news-maker.

September was also more active than normal, with Ike battering Texas, Hanna bashing the northern Leeward Islands and the middle Atlantic states, and Kyle striking Maine and the Canadian Maritimes.

Klotzbach and Gray need a few more storms to meet their June forecasts. The 2008 Atlantic hurricane season is already running slightly above the 1950-2000 averages, with two months to go in the season.

Named storms so far: 12 Gray's June prediction: 15 Average:  9.6

Hurricanes so far:Gray's June prediction: 8   Average: 5.9

Major hurricanes so far:Gray's June prediction:Average: 2.3 

The season is also just short of the team's predictions for "named storm days" - the number of days when named storms (tropical storm strength or higher) have been prowling the seas. The count has far exceeded the average, however.

Named storm days so far: 74.5  Gray's predictions: 80  Average:  49.1


Posted by Frank Roylance at 10:20 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Hurricanes

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About Frank Roylance
This site is the Maryland Weather archive. The current Maryland Weather blog can be found here.
Frank Roylance is a reporter for The Baltimore Sun. He came to Baltimore from New Bedford, Mass. in 1980 to join the old Evening Sun. He moved to the morning Sun when the papers merged in 1992, and has spent most of his time since covering science, including astronomy and the weather. One of The Baltimore Sun's first online Web logs, the Weather Blog debuted in October 2004. In June 2006 Frank also began writing comments on local weather and stargazing for The Baltimore Sun's print Weather Page. Frank also answers readers’ weather queries for the newspaper and the blog. Frank Roylance retired in October 2011. Maryland Weather is now being updated by members of The Baltimore Sun staff

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