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Second Forecast for Another Active Hurricane Season in 2009

A second long-term forecast for the 2009 Atlantic hurricane season, this one from Andover, MA-based WSI Corp., predicts above-average storm activity, though possibly not as much as the 2008 season.

In its first look at the 2009 season, WSI calls for 13 named storms, including seven hurricanes, three of them intense (Category Three or greater) forming in the Atlantic Basin between June 1 and Nov. 30. Those numbers are all larger than the 1950-2008 averages of 9.8 named storms, six hurricanes and 2.5 intense hurricanes, WSI said.

The expectations for an active 2009 season are based on the expected continuation of warmer-than-normal Atlantic Ocean temperature anomalies and the likelihood of a favorable or neutral wind shear environment associated with the lack of an El Nino event, the forecasters said.

"Since 1995, most tropical seasons have been more active than the long-term averages, due to warmer Atlantic Ocean temperatures. We do not see any reason why this active regime will not continue in 2009," said WSI seasonal forecaster Todd Crawford. "It should be noted that the Atlantic temperatures are cooler than last year, however, and we currently do not expect 2009 to be quite as active as 2008."

The WSI forecast follows a similar one from weather forecasters at Colorado State University (CSU) who predicted 14 named storms, seven of them hurricanes, including three major hurricanes with sustained winds of at least 111 mph (see NGI, Dec. 15, 2008). The CSU team also said there is an above-average chance of at least one major hurricane making landfall on the Gulf Coast in 2009.

In its first look at the 2008 season issued last December, WSI said the same conditions would likely bring an active Atlantic hurricane season, and predicted 14 named storms, including seven hurricanes, three of them intense (see NGI, Jan. 7, 2008). In an April update to its forecast, WSI upped the ante slightly, adding a fourth intense hurricane to its prediction (see NGI, April 28, 2008). The 2008 season actually produced a total of 16 named storms, including eight hurricanes, five of them intense, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and was "one of the most destructive years on record from a damage perspective," according to CSU forecaster Phil Klotzbach (see NGI, Nov. 24, 2008).

WSI's next update on the 2009 tropical season is scheduled to be released on April 22.

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