Jun 222010
Authors: Kirsten Silveira

If CSU’s hurricane forecast lives up to its prediction, southern costal waters will not be smooth sailing this summer.

June 1 marked the first day of the 2010 hurricane season, which spans to Nov. 30, and Atmospheric Science research scholar Phil Klotzbach said the Atlantic Ocean already has a storm brewing.

The original forecast called for 15 storms. But upon the dissipation of the warm waters linked to El Nino, which Klotzbach said is difficult to predict during the spring, the number of anticipated storms was upped to 18.

Jana Goldman, spokeswoman for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Adminstration, said El Nino, which inhibits the formation of cyclones in the Atlantic, dissipated in May and made way for the formation of La Nina, which makes conditions favorable for an active hurricane season.

Of those 18 named storms, 10 are said to form into hurricanes with five becoming major hurricanes with sustained winds up to 111 miles per hour. Hurricanes are assigned an intensity level from Category 1, a mild storm, to Category 5, a devastating storm.

“The Atlantic is very warm this year, basically as warm as you’ll see it,” Klotzbach said. The development of a storm is based on factors such as wind, water temperature and atmospheric pressure.

Every November, after hurricane season has come and gone, Klotzbach and his team analyze data and make a preliminary prediction for the following year. With Microsoft Excel on the Dell laptop he got for “500 bucks,” Klotzbach puts together a forecast.

“It’s not perfect science, but you could do a much more complicated analysis and get the same accuracy in your prediction,” he said.

Data shows a 51 percent chance that a major storm will make landfall on the East Coast, including Florida’s Southern Peninsula, a 65 percent chance a major storm will make its way into Caribbean waters and a 51 percent chance a major storm will make landfall on the Gulf Coast.

“We do think the hurricane, if it moves to the west of the spill, will turn it counter-clockwise and likely drive the oil onshore, creating a big mess,” Klotzbach said in regard to British Petroleum’s gushing oil well off the coast of Louisiana.

And while the oil spill presents its own set of problems during hurricane season, Klotzbach said any hurricane in the Gulf waters is bad news.

“If you get a storm in the Atlantic, it’s got a lot of water to span. But in the Gulf, it will likely hit land,” he said.

Most hurricanes don’t start showing up until Aug. 1, Klotzbach added.

CSU’s hurricane prediction team will put out it’s final forecast Aug. 4 and immediately begin compiling data for next year’s prediction.

Assistant News Editor Kirsten Silveira can be reached at news@collegian.com.

By the Numbers: Hurricane Season (June 1 through Nov. 30)

15: The number of named storms originally predicted
18: The forecast of newly-named storms
10: The number of storms said to form hurricanes
5: The number of storms said to become major hurricanes

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