Dec 102008
Authors: Johnny Hart

Two CSU researchers published a forecast of hurricane activity for the 2009 hurricane season and said Wednesday that they “anticipate an above-average probability of United States major hurricane landfall.”

Dr. Philip Klotzbach and Dr. William Gray predicted that seven hurricanes will form in the Atlantic basin from June 1 to Nov. 30, of which they expect three to become major hurricanes with winds of 111 mph or higher.

The forecast projects a 63 percent chance of hitting the coast of the U.S., as opposed to the average for last century, 52 percent. According to the forecast, the East Coast and the Florida Peninsula have a 39 percent chance of being hit, and the Gulf Coast from the Florida Panhandle west to Brownsville, Texas, have a 38 percent chance of being hit.

Despite the threat of landfall, Klotzbach said he finds no reason for concern, saying that last season, there were 16 hurricanes and no major hurricane really made landfall.

“Even if our predictions are perfect, you can’t tell where it’s going to hit,” Klotzbach said.

According to the extended range forecast, “the probability of landfall for any one location along the coast is very low and reflects the fact that, in any one season, most U.S. coastal areas will not feel the effects of a hurricane no matter how active the individual season.”

The CSU Tropical Meteorology Project developed a methodology composed of 58 years of hurricane and oceanic data. “We use the past to predict the future,” Klotzbach said.

This year, the forecast calls for warm Atlantic surface waters and the absence of El Niño in the Pacific, causing an above-average season.

Gray said that active and non-active seasons form in a multi-decadal cycle and hurricane activity will be above-average for the next “decade or two.”

“We’re just in an active year here,” Gray said.

Alternative to what Gray said, many believe the rise in surface temperature is not caused by the increased amount of carbon dioxide.

“I know most of my colleagues don’t believe that the rise in (carbon dioxide) caused this at all,” Gray said.

According to the report, “Although global surface temperatures have increased over the last century and over the last 30 years, there is no reliable data available to indicate increased hurricane frequency or intensity in any of the globe’s other tropical cyclone basins.”

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