A widely followed team of forecasters has slightly upped the number of expected hurricanes this year, citing warming seas in the tropical Atlantic Ocean.
Tuesday morning, the Tropical Meteorology Project at Colorado State University's Department of Atmospheric Sciences forecast six hurricanes — up from its previous prediction in April of five — in an Atlantic hurricane season update, reports News 6 partner Florida Today.
The projected number of named storms, including tropical storms, has increased from 13 to 14 (including Andrea). The prediction of two major hurricanes remains unchanged.
For comparison's sake, the average Atlantic hurricane season from 1981-2010 saw 12.1 named storms and 6.4 hurricanes. Of those, 2.7 strengthened into major hurricanes of Category 3, 4 or 5, packing sustained wind speeds of 111 mph and greater.
"You can certainly find plenty of examples of fairly quiet seasons that had very significant impacts. Most notably for Florida, that would be 1992 where CSU had a perfect forecast of one major hurricane," said Phil Klotzbach, a CSU meteorologist.
"And there was one — it was Hurricane Andrew," Klotzbach said.
"Then you have other years like 2010, where you had 12 hurricanes in the Atlantic basin. And nobody remembers 2010, because thankfully none of them hit the U.S. We just ran off a remarkably good string of luck," he said.
The CSU researchers pegged the odds of at least one Category 3, 4 or 5 storm making landfall in these locations at:
Entire U.S. coastline: 54% (average for last century is 52%)
U.S. East Coast, including Florida: 32% (average for last century is 31%)
Gulf Coast, from the Florida Panhandle west to Brownsville, Texas: 31% (average for last century is 30%)
Caribbean: 44% (average for last century is 42%)
"There remains considerable uncertainty as to whether El Niño conditions will persist through the Atlantic hurricane season. The tropical Atlantic has warmed slightly faster than normal over the past few weeks and now has near-average sea surface temperatures," the researchers wrote.
The Atlantic hurricane season started Saturday and lasts until Nov. 30. Andrea — a short-lived subtropical storm that never made landfall — swirled to life in May.
This marks the 36th year that CSU's Tropical Meteorology Project has forecast the upcoming Atlantic hurricane season. The team will issue additional seasonal updates on July 2 and Aug. 6.
sign that nothing's going to happen," Klotzbach warned Florida residents.
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"The hurricane season really peaks in August, September and October," Klotzbach said.
Two weeks ago, researchers with the federal government predicted a near-normal Atlantic hurricane season of four to eight hurricanes, with two to four developing into major hurricanes.
All told, NOAA forecast nine to 15 named storms will develop.
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