Above average hurricane activity expected for
temperatures in the Pacific and
heavy rains in West Africa led a
leading hurricane forecaster to say
that this season will be more
intense than he predicted in April.
Colorado State University professor
William Gray on Thursday released
his updated figures, boosting the
number of named storms to 12 from
10, the number of hurricanes to
seven from six and the number of
intense hurricanes to three from
Gray said that he also believes
there is a greater possibility that
hurricanes will hit land on the East
Coast this year.
"It just seems to us that
things are looking more conducive
for hurricanes than they did at the
end of March," Gray said
Those conditions include
colder-than-expected temperatures in
the Pacific off the west coast of
North America and south into the
Hawaii area, weakening El Nino.
El Nino is a warm body of water in
the Pacific that produces strong
upper winds. The winds move across
the Atlantic and rip the tops off
forming storms, Gray said.
Gray, a professor of atmospheric
science, said that above-average
rainfall in West Africa will fuel
the Atlantic storms.
Another factor is the buildup of
warm, salty water flowing to the
northern Atlantic. Gray said the
saltier water sinks and
redistributes energy, which can
intensify a hurricane.
The season's first named storm was
reported this week off southeast
Texas. Allison dumped up to 12
inches of rain before winding down
A storm has to have sustained winds
of about 40 mph before it gets a
Gray predicted the probability of
hurricanes moving inland this season
is 50 percent for the East Coast and
Florida peninsula, compared with an
annual average of 31 percent; and 39
percent for the Florida Panhandle
west to Brownsville, Texas, compared
with an average of 30 percent.
Gray said that it is difficult to
estimate the landfall probabilities
for the small Caribbean land masses
but added the chances of a major
storm coming ashore are about
Last year there were 14 tropical
storms, including eight hurricanes,
but most stayed well offshore. But
two tropical storms battered
northern Florida with high winds and
rain, causing $26.8 million in
damage but no deaths or injuries.
The yearly averages from 1959-1990
are 9.3 named storms, 5.8 hurricanes
and 2.2 intense hurricanes.
Hurricane season runs from June 1 to
Nov. 30, but Gray said that the most
intense activity is usually from
mid-August to mid-October.
Gray will issue his final
predictions Aug. 7.