Hurricane season forecast upped
BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, Monday June 4, 2012 – While still predicting a below average hurricane season, Colorado State University researchers have raised their forecast for the 2012 Atlantic hurricane season to 13 tropical storms, with five hurricanes and two major hurricanes.
In April they forecast 10 tropical storms, with four strengthening into hurricanes and two becoming major hurricanes with winds of at least 111 miles per hour during the six-month season that began on June 1.
The revised numbers would still be slightly below average for hurricanes in the region that includes the Atlantic Ocean, the Caribbean Sea and the Gulf of Mexico, the pioneering forecast team said.
An average season brings about 12 tropical storms, with six hurricanes and three major hurricanes ranking at Category 3 or higher on the Saffir-Simpson intensity scale.
The CSU forecast includes the two Atlantic tropical storms that sprang up in May before the official start of the season. Tropical Storm Alberto formed and then fizzled off the South Carolina coast, while Tropical Storm Beryl came ashore near Jacksonville Beach, Florida, on Monday.
However, famed hurricane expert William Gray, who founded the Colorado State University forecasting team almost three decades ago, has said that two early storms are nothing to be alarmed about. "Historically, pre-1 June activity has very little bearing on the rest of the hurricane season," he said
Gray’s protégé and lead author of the forecasts, Phil Klotzbach, has said the revised forecast accounts for the El Nino factor. "We have increased our numbers slightly from our early April forecast, due largely to our uncertainty as to whether an El Nino will develop later this summer as well as somewhat marginal Atlantic basin conditions," he said,.
The El Nino weather pattern, marked by a warming of the tropical Pacific, tends to bring shearing winds that deter hurricane formation in the Atlantic. Several forecast groups have predicted El Nino would form by late summer, when the Atlantic hurricane season moves into its busiest period.