Colorado State University hurricane forecasters issued their first forecast of next year's Atlantic hurricane season today, and it's big.
The forecast team of researchers William Gray and Phil Klotzbach
predict above-average activity in the Atlantic next year with 14 named storms and seven hurricanes, three of them major.
The 50 year average is 9.6 named storms, 5.9 hurricanes and 2.3
The team's extended-range forecast predicts a 63 percent chance
that at least one major hurricane will make landfall on the U.S.
The long-term average probability is 52 percent.
This is Gray's 26th year of forecasting hurricanes. His predictions are watched closely by emergency responders and others.
But many say such long-range forecasts don't have a lot of
practical value beyond focusing public attention on the dangers.
Klotzbach said the new forecast is based on factors including warm Atlantic sea surface temperatures and the likely absence of El Nino conditions.
El Nino is a warming in the Pacific
Ocean that can have such far-reaching effects as changing wind
patterns in the eastern Atlantic, which can disrupt the formation