Wednesday, December 7, 2005

Looking Ahead to the 2006 Hurricane Season

Planet Ark reported that the Colorado State University hurricane research team predicts a stormier than average hurricane season in 2006.  Dr. William Gray of the CSU team says nine of 17 tropical storms predicted for 2006 will become Atlantic hurricanes, including five major hurricanes with winds exceeding 110 mph.  The average season produces 10 storms, of which 6 become hurricanes and 2 are major category 3 or higher hurricanes. Planet Ark - CSU Hurricane Prediction

CSU predicts that the probability of a major Category 3, 4 or 5 hurricane - the most destructive types - hitting somewhere on the US coast is 81 %. Florida, pounded by eight hurricanes in the last two years, has a 64 % chance of being hit by a major hurricane.  CSU scientists say the Atlantic-Caribbean basin is in a period of increased hurricane activity, but  that future years are unlikely to have many seasons as intense as the last two, which together produced 41 storms.

The CSU research team has had accurate predictions in the past, though its forecast for the 2005 season predicted a normal season, with 11 tropical storms and six hurricanes. The season broke all historic records with 26 storms, shattering the mark of 21 set in 1933.
Fourteen storms became hurricanes including Epsilon at the end of the official season.  Hurricane Katrina became the most expensive hurricane on record, killing at least 1,300 people and causing at least $80 billion in damage.

CSU researchers discount the theory offered by other scientists that global warming has contributed to the intensity of recent storms -- even though hurricanes are powered by warm sea water and warmer sea temperatures have been linked to global warming.

Climate Change, North America, Physical Science, US | Permalink

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