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Bastardi Sees 'Much More Active' Hurricane Season

The 2010 Atlantic hurricane season is likely to be much more active than the 2009 season, with seven named storms, including five hurricanes, making landfall on the U.S. mainland, according to an early hurricane forecast from Chief Long Range Forecaster Joe Bastardi.

"This year has the chance to be an extreme season," Bastardi said. "It is certainly much more like 2008 than 2009 as far as the overall threat to the United States' East and Gulf coasts."

Bastardi's forecast calls for 16-18 tropical storms this year, with 15 of them in the western Atlantic or Gulf of Mexico.

Nine named storms formed during 2009, including three hurricanes, two of them intense (Category Three or greater).

Driving the increased tropical storm activity this year will be a rapidly weakening El Nino event in the Pacific Ocean and warmer ocean temperatures in the portion of the Atlantic where storms typically form, according to Bastardi. Weakening trade winds and higher humidity levels are also likely to help create more tropical storms this year, he said.

Bastardi's prediction is in line with several other recent forecasts. Last month the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Climate Prediction Center also predicted an active Atlantic hurricane season based on a faltering El Nino (see NGI, Feb. 8). The Australian Bureau of Meteorology has said the El Nino appeared to have peaked in December and predicted that it would end by June.

Andover, MA-based WSI Corp. has said it expects the 2010 hurricane season to be more active than last year's and predicted that 13 named storms, including seven hurricanes, with three of them intense (Category Three or greater) will form this year (see NGI, Feb. 1). WSI's 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. Colorado State University hurricane forecasters 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).

The Atlantic hurricane season officially begins on June 1.

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