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WSI Expects More Atlantic Hurricanes This Year

The 2010 Atlantic hurricane season will be more active than last year's, according to Andover, MA-based WSI Corp., which is predicting that 13 named storms, including seven hurricanes, with three of them intense (Category Three or greater) will form this year.

Georgia and the Carolinas will be most at risk from tropical storms, with near- to slightly below-normal risks along the rest of the U.S. coastline, WSI said in its first hurricane season report of the year.

WSI's 2010 forecast numbers fall between the 1950-2009 average of 10 named storms, six hurricanes and three intense hurricanes and the 1995-2009 average of 14 named storms, eight hurricanes and four intense hurricanes.

Nine named storms formed during 2009, including three hurricanes, two of them intense. In August the season's first hurricane, Bill, reached Category Four status for a short time while it was still south of Bermuda. The storm caused rough seas and unusually high tides along much of the East Coast but did not make landfall until it passed over southeastern Newfoundland. In September Fred also became a major hurricane but weakened considerably while still in the eastern Atlantic and was never a serious threat to land. The tail end of the uneventful hurricane season was punctuated by the threat of Hurricane Ida, which in November sent some offshore operators scurrying to evacuate crews and shut in production in the eastern Gulf of Mexico. However, Ida's impact was short-lived.

"2009 was the quietest tropical season since 1997, as an emerging El Nino event combined with relatively cool tropical Atlantic waters to suppress widespread development," said WSI seasonal forecaster Todd Crawford. "The previous five El Nino events have all been followed by significant increases in tropical activity the following summer as the vertical shear weakens and the tropical Atlantic warms up. We expect a similar result this summer, and feel that our current forecast numbers are more likely to be adjusted upwards rather than downwards as we get closer to the season."

The WSI forecast was generally in line with the predictions of Colorado State University hurricane forecasters, who have said they expect above-average activity and a higher-than-average probability of a major storm making landfall in the United States and the Caribbean (see NGI, Dec. 14, 2009).

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