Sept 3, 2003 – As deadly Hurricane Fabian swirled north of the Virgin Islands on Wednesday, Colorado State University forecaster William Gray came out with his September update on the remainder of the storm season.
Gray and his team now predict that September will see four named storms in the Atlantic, with two developing into hurricanes — one of them a major hurricane with sustained winds of 111 mph or more.
For October, they think that three named storms will form, with two becoming hurricanes and one of those reaching major hurricane status.
"We expect storm activity in September to be about average and October to be more active than normal," Gray said. "Overall, we think the remainder of the 2003 Atlantic basin storm season will be slightly above average."
The long-term annual average stands at 9.6 named storms, 5.9 hurricanes and 2.3 intense hurricanes.
Gray hasn't significantly changed his initial forecast for the 2003 season. He's still calling for 14 named storms. In August, he reduced his earlier prediction of eight hurricanes for the season to seven. He's still projecting three major hurricanes.
For August, Gray and his colleagues were on target in predicting three named storms, one of them a major hurricane. That one was Fabian, which grew into a Category 4 hurricane and still remains on the radar, although it's not a threat to the Virgin Islands.
While Gray doesn't predict the probability of a hurricane hitting a Caribbean island, he does think that there's a one-in-three chance that one will strike the U.S. coast in September and a 14 percent chance of that happening in October.
Gray credits improved technology as well as his diligent staff with developing the capability to provide monthly forecasts instead of only the seasonal ones he began issuing 20 years ago. He first issued monthly forecasts for August and September last year. This year, he is adding October.
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