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WSI Reaffirms 'Active-Normal' Atlantic Hurricane Forecast

While no named storms have formed during the first three weeks of the 2011 Atlantic hurricane season, it is still likely to produce 15 named storms, including eight hurricanes, four of them Category Three or greater -- the same as the 1995-2010 average -- according to forecasters at Andover, MA-based WSI Corp.

WSI said weather conditions remain in place to create the "active-normal" tropical forecast it first issued in April and reaffirmed last month (see Daily GPI, May 25; April 27).

"We do expect another active season in 2011, although not to the level of 2005 or 2010," said WSI Chief Meteorologist Todd Crawford. "However, while we expect less overall activity this year than last, we do expect a much more impactful season along the U.S. coastline." The Gulf Coast is under "a significant threat for hurricane landfall," according to WSI.

"While we cannot explicitly state exactly where or when a hurricane might make landfall, our model does have some skill in distinguishing which coastal regions may be more favored than others," Crawford said. "For the upcoming season, our hurricane landfall prediction model suggests increased chances (relative to normal) of U.S. landfall in 2011, especially in the western Gulf states."

The consensus forecast this year is for an above-average hurricane season, with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (see Daily GPI, May 20), AccuWeather.com (see Daily GPI, April 26; April 1) and MDA EarthSat all calling for above-average numbers of named storms and hurricanes.

Forecasters at Colorado State University (CSU) have said they expect to see 16 named storms form in the Atlantic Basin by Nov. 30, with nine turning into hurricanes, five of them major hurricanes (see Daily GPI, June 2). The CSU forecast team said it sees a 72% chance that at least one major hurricane will make landfall on the U.S. coastline this year. Probabilities first issued by CSU in April include a 48% chance that a major hurricane will make landfall on the U.S. East Coast, including the Florida peninsula (the long-term average is 31%); a 47% chance that a major hurricane will make landfall on the Gulf Coast from the Florida Panhandle west to Brownsville, TX (the long-term average is 30%); and a 61% chance of a major hurricane tracking into the Caribbean (the long-term average is 42%) (see Daily GPI, April 7).

A total of 19 named storms formed in 2010, with 12 of them becoming hurricanes, including five intense hurricanes. The long-term (1950-2009) averages for the Atlantic hurricane season are 10 named storms, six hurricanes and two intense hurricanes; the 1995-2009 averages are 14, eight and four, respectively.

While there have been no named storms in the Atlantic Basin so far this year, the Pacific has already produced two hurricanes. Tropical Storm Adrian developed into a hurricane June 9 and peaked at Category Four status off the west coast of Mexico before being downgraded to tropical storm status again June 11. On Tuesday the National Hurricane Center (NHC) was tracking Hurricane Beatriz, which had attained Category One status located about 55 miles south-southeast of Cabo Corrientes, Mexico. The storm was moving northwest at 14 mph and hurricane warnings that were issued along the coast of Mexico had been discontinued, NHC said.

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