First hurricane forecast for 2010 is out
The 2009 hurricane season has been over for exactly 9 days and already an intrepid band of forecasters has issued its predictions for 2010.
Phil Klotzbach and William Gray, at Colorado State University, say the El Nino event that was blamed for suppressing hurricane formation during the 2009 season (and influencing this stormy autumn we've had) will wane by next summer.
That, they say, will take the brakes off the underlying conditions - warm sea surface temperatures in the tropical Atlantic - that have been sending us unusually active Atlantic seasons, on average, since 1995.
So, nearly six months out, the CSU team expects to see 11 to 16 named storms next season. Of those, 6 to 8 will reach hurricane force, with 3 to 5 of those reaching Cat. 3 strength (111 mph).
The long-term averages are: 9.6 named storms; 5.9 hurricanes; 2.3 "intense" (Cat. 3) storms.
Their December forecast predicts a 40 percent chance that at least one major (Cat. 3) storm will make landfall along the East Coast, including Florida's Atlantic coast. The long-term average is 31 percent.
It's the first time Klotzbach and Gray have used number ranges in their initial forecast. They say they will list specific numbers in their next update, in April.
The CSU forecasts are based on 58 years of data on hurricanes and air and water conditions in the Atlantic basin. They claim their system has correctly forecast above- or below-average seasons in 44 of those 58 years.
Time will tell. In the meantime, here's an interesting take on the surprising amount of Maryland damage done by Ida, the Gulf hurricane remnants that stalked the U.S. East Coast in November. That's the Calvert County shoreline of the Chesapeake above, where a storm surge driven by Ida's passage eroded many feet of beach.
(Photo by Karl Hille, for NASA)