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Gray Updates Predictions, as Ivan Moves West

Sept. 3, 2004 – With Hurricane Frances about to hammer Florida and Tropical Storm Ivan heading west across the Atlantic, Colorado State University hurricane forecaster William Gray and his team on Friday issued his monthly predictions for the rest of hurricane season.
Gray said in a news release that he expects five named storms to brew up in September, with three of them becoming hurricanes. He anticipates two will become major hurricanes with winds over 111 mph.
Gray thinks October will see three named storms, with one becoming a hurricane. He doesn't expect any to become major hurricanes.
He expects no significant storm activity in November.
That would be a relief for Virgin Islands residents already sick of hurricane anxiety, And no wonder. Just days after Frances' close call they are being warned to keep an eye on Tropical Storm Ivan.
Hector Rivera, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service in San Juan, said Friday, forecasters currently expect Ivan to pass about 250 miles south of St. Croix as a Category 3 hurricane on Wednesday.
However, Rivera said, the margin of error this far away is huge.
"So, keep watching."
As of 5 p.m. Friday, Tropical Storm Ivan was centered at 8.9 degrees north latitude and 34.6 degrees west longitude. This puts it about 865 miles west-southwest of the Cape Verde Islands.
Winds are 50 mph with gusts to 65 mph. The storm is expected to strengthen into a Category 1 hurricane by Sunday.
Tropical storm force winds extend outward 60 miles from the storm's center.
Tropical Storm Ivan is moving west-southwest at 19 mph.
The pressure stands at 1000 millibars or 29.52 inches.
Given how busy August turned out to be, Gray updated his total seasonal forecast to 16 named storms, up from the 13 predicted in his Aug. 6 forecast. He now expects eight to become hurricanes, an increase from seven in the earlier forecast. Five could reach intense status, up from three in his early August prediction.
The yearly long-term average stands at 9.6 named storms, 5.9 hurricanes and 2.3 intense hurricanes.
Gray said that August was a near-record month for tropical storm activity with eight named storms and four hurricanes. Three of those hurricanes were considered intense.
He said the long-term average for August stands at 4.2 named storms and 2.4 hurricanes. The August average for major hurricanes stands at 0.7.
Gray said that this August alone accounted for 86 percent of an average season's hurricane activity.
In his Aug. 6 forecast, he had predicted four named storms and three hurricanes for August, with one of them becoming an intense hurricane.
"Although we expected above average activity in August, we greatly underestimated the amount of activity that actually occurred," Gray said.
He said finding out why this happened needs further research.
In eight of the 10 most active Augusts on record, Gray said, the September that followed was also a very active month for hurricanes.
He said that while people are wondering why we've seen so much hurricane activity this season, the question is really why was there a hiatus from the normal busy hurricane activity.
"In terms of long-term averages, we have been quite lucky for the past decade. However, we knew climatology would correct itself and this luck would eventually run out. It looks like this is the year," Gray said.
He said that since August 1995, the Atlantic basin saw 35 intense or major hurricanes. Of those 35, only five have made or will soon make landfall on the U.S. mainland. He included Hurricane Frances in his five.
Gray said the long-term average is about one in three major storms making landfall.
"The real surprise is that peninsula Florida has experienced so few major hurricane strikes in the past 38 years," he said.
Gray will update his October forecast on Oct. 1.

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