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Hurricane Gurus Predict Above-Average 2008 Season

Dec. 7, 2007 — With the end of the 2007 hurricane season just a week gone, Phil Klotzbach and William Gray at Colorado State University Friday came out with their predictions for the 2008 season.
"Based on our analysis of fall parameters, the 2008 Atlantic hurricane season is expected to be more active than the average 1950-to-2000 season," said Klotzbach, the lead author of the forecasts, in a news release.
Klotzbach and Gray anticipate that 13 named storms will form in the Atlantic basin between June 1 and Nov. 30. They think seven of the 13 storms will become hurricanes. Of those seven, they expect three to develop into major hurricanes, with sustained winds of 111 mph or greater.
The long-term average stands at 9.6 named storms, 5.9 hurricanes and 2.3 major hurricanes.
"Despite fairly inactive 2006 and 2007 hurricane seasons, we believe that the Atlantic basin is still in an active hurricane cycle," Gray said. "This active cycle is expected to continue at least for another decade or two. After that, we're likely to enter a quieter Atlantic major hurricane period like we experienced during the quarter-century periods of 1970 to 1994 and 1901 to 1925."
Residents should remain prepared for emergencies, because late-season hurricanes have occurred, said Steve Parris, acting director of the V.I. Territorial Emergency Management Agency. And the first storm of the 2007 season developed before the official start of hurricane season on June 1, he said.
Parris urged residents to use the upcoming months to make to take mitigation measures, if necessary, to make their homes better able to withstand hurricanes.
"Assess your infrastructure," he advised.
The team also predicts a 60-percent chance that at least one major hurricane will make landfall on the U.S. coastline in 2008. The long-term average probability is 52 percent.
The forecast does not predict the specific probability of a hurricane making landfall in the Caribbean, but it does predict above-average major hurricane landfall risk in the Caribbean.
This year's prediction by Klotzbach and Gray is based on a new statistical-forecast technique that they said explains a considerable amount of hurricane variability in hindcasts issued from 1950 to 2007. Over this time period, the three-predictor scheme correctly forecast above- or below-average seasons in 45 out of 58 years.
The hurricane team's forecasts are based on the premise that global oceanic and atmospheric conditions — such as El Nino, sea-surface temperatures and sea-level pressure — that preceded active or inactive hurricane seasons in the past provide meaningful information about similar trends in future seasons.
For 2008, Gray and the hurricane forecast team expect continued fairly warm tropical and North Atlantic sea-surface temperatures, prevalent in most years since 1995, as well as neutral or weak La Nina conditions — a recipe for enhanced Atlantic-basin hurricane activity. These factors are similar to conditions that occurred during the 1953, 1956, 1989, 1999 and 2000 seasons. The average of these five seasons had above-average activity.
The team will issue seasonal updates of its 2008 Atlantic basin hurricane activity forecast on April 8, June 3, Aug. 5, Sept. 2 and Oct. 2. The August, September and October forecasts will include separate forecasts for August, September and October-November activity.
The report marks the 25th year of the Colorado State hurricane forecasting team, currently led by Klotzbach and Gray.
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