New Caribbean hurricane forecast debuted

CSU forecasters increase their hurricane season numbers

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Colorado
State University scientists Phil Klotzbach and William Gray unveiled a new
Caribbean hurricane forecast as part of their 2010 Atlantic Basin hurricane
forecast update on Wednesday.

In
addition to increasing all their Atlantic Basin forecast numbers by 20 to 25
per cent over their 7 April predictions, the duo predicted an Accumulated
Cyclone Energy index for the Caribbean to be as high this year as the
record-breaking Atlantic hurricane season of 2005. The forecast ACE measure for
the Caribbean in 2010 is 58. In comparison, the observed ACE in the Caribbean
in 2009 was four.

For
the whole Atlantic Basin, their forecast on named storms increased from 15 to
18; the forecast number of hurricanes increased from eight to 10; and the
forecast number of major hurricanes of Category 3 strength or above increased
from four to five.

The
long-term annual averages for a hurricane season are 9.6 named storms, 5.9
hurricanes and 2.3 major hurricanes.

“We
have increased our forecast from early April due to a combination of a
transition from El Niño to currently-observed neutral conditions and the continuation
of unusually warm tropical Atlantic sea surface temperatures,” the duo wrote in
their report.

Klotzbach
and Gray predict that La Niña conditions will develop in the equatorial Pacific
Ocean by the time of the most active part of the hurricane season arrives in
August.

“The
expected trend towards weak La Niña conditions should lead to reduced levels of
vertical wind shear compared with what was witnessed in 2009,” the forecast
report stated.

Accumulated Cyclone Energy is a measure that takes
into account the number, strength and duration of tropical cyclones that reach
at least tropical storm strength. Klotzbach and Gray now forecast of an
Atlantic Basin ACE of 185 this year, up from 150 in their 7 April forecast. Any
measure over 150 for the Atlantic Basin is considered a hyperactive season. 

The
scientists also forecast a 65 per cent probability of at least one major
hurricane tracking into the Caribbean, considerably higher than the 42 per cent
average for the last century.

“Major
hurricanes cause 80-85 per cent of normalised hurricane damage,” the forecast
report noted.

Klotzbach
and Gray’s updated forecast calling for a very active Atlantic Basin hurricane
season follows several others calling for the same. Last week, the US Climate
Prediction Center, part of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration,
forecast 14 to 23 named storms, eight to 14 hurricanes and three to seven major
hurricanes.  The CSU scientists’ forecast
numbers fall close to the centre of all of those ranges.

Joe
Bastardi, AccuWeather.com’s chief meteorologist and hurricane forecaster,
predicted 16 to 18 named storms, 10 to 11 hurricanes and five major hurricanes,
numbers very similar or the same as Klotzbach’s and Gray’s.

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Hurricane Gustav hit Cayman in August 2008.
Photo: File