AccuWeather.com, which just issued
its early hurricane season forecast, not only believes that the
2010 season will be more active than last year, but the private company sees
the potential for an “extreme season” with an above-normal threat all
along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts.
The forecast was led by chief long-range meteorologist and hurricane forecaster
Joe Bastardi, who believes that this year will be more like the 2008 hurricane
season than the much quieter 2009 season. In 2008, there were 16 named storms,
eight of which were hurricanes, including the major hurricane Ike that ravaged
the upper Texas coast. In 2009, only two storms (one of which was a hurricane)
made landfall, both along the Gulf Coast, making it the least active Atlantic
hurricane season since 1997.
The forecast projects 16 to 18 storms (hurricanes and tropical
storms), 15 of which are expected to occur in the western Atlantic and in the
Gulf of Mexico, potentially posing a threat to U.S. coastlines. Seven
hurricanes are forecast by AccuWeather, five of them major (Category 3 or
stronger). Two or three major hurricanes are projected to make landfall, with
seven total storms making landfall. The forecast did not pinpoint which
region (Gulf Coast, Florida or East Coast) has the greatest likelihood of land
falling storms; AccuWeather thinks all coastal areas have an above-normal
threat this season.
The meteorological reasoning behind the
forecast for a more active hurricane season this year includes the expected
rapid weakening of the current El Nino in the tropical Pacific. Pacific Ocean
warming might seem like an odd factor to consider in an Atlantic basin
forecast. But when an El Nino is occurring in the Pacific, the Atlantic
hurricane season is typically much less active.
Warmer sea surface temperatures in
the tropical Atlantic this year are another factor in the projected storm
An expected weakening of Atlantic trade winds is another factor highlighted in
AccuWeather’s forecast. These easterly winds tend to pull dry air and dust from
Africa into the tropical Atlantic, both of which are not conducive to tropical
The National Weather Service is scheduled to issue its hurricane forecast in
May. The U.S. hurricane season officially begins June 1 and continues through
November, although peak activity tends to occur around late August.