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: 6 Gray's June prediction: 8 Average: 5.9
Major hurricanes so far: 3 Gray's June prediction: 4 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