Tropical storm activity in the Atlantic Basin may be about to increase, according to WeatherBELL Analytics chief meteorologist Joe Bastardi, who said Tuesday a frenzy of named storms resulting in multiple hurricanes could be unleashed between Aug. 25 and mid-September.

"Rarely and certainly not since 2008, when six named storms in a row struck the U.S., do we see the Atlantic basin ready to become a focal point of the Earth's tropical activity right at the height of the hurricane season," Bastardi said. As many as seven tropical storms are likely to emerge in the next month, he said.

"Almost all them are likely to reach hurricane status, and three or four of them could impact the U.S. coast. It appears that this very active period that is shaping up could rival the 2008 frenzy of storms."

Unlike the first 11 weeks of the 2011 Atlantic hurricane season, which has produced seven named storms but resulted in little damage to the U.S. coastline or energy interests in the Gulf of Mexico (GOM), the next month could bring storms posing a threat to the U.S., Bastardi said. The first of the storms could reach the U.S. coast in the last week of August, he said.

But while the GOM was the center of activity in 2008, the current pattern suggests that the GOM may represent the west side of the action this season, while New England will be the Northeast side, with Florida and other southeastern states the most at risk, according to Bastardi.

Bastardi's forecast dovetails with one issued last week by AccuWeather.com, which said the Atlantic Basin may be poised to produce at least three named storms by Aug. 25 (see Daily GPI, Aug. 12). Tropical systems that originate from the Cape Verde Islands near Africa often increase in August, AccuWeather.com said.

Since then, one named storm, Gert, has formed in the Atlantic. On Tuesday the National Hurricane Center (NHC) was tracking Tropical Storm Gert about 575 miles northeast of Bermuda, where it was moving northeast at 30 mph with maximum sustained winds of 40 mph. Gert was expected to weaken as it accelerated into the North Atlantic, NHC said. A large tropical wave over the eastern Caribbean, which was producing scattered showers and thunderstorms, had the potential to slowly develop as it moves westward over the next few days, but NHC gave it only a 20% chance of becoming a tropical cyclone.

AccuWeather.com's extended forecast calls for a total of 15 named storms -- including eight hurricanes, three of them intense -- to form this year (see Daily GPI, April 1), and other forecasters have also predicted above-average tropical storm activity in the Atlantic basin. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association recently increased the number of named storms in its hurricane forecast, saying it expects 14-19 named storms, including seven to 10 hurricanes, three to five of them Category 3 or greater (see Daily GPI, Aug. 5).

WSI Corp. has said it expects a total of 15 named storms, including eight hurricanes, four of them Category 3 or greater to form this year (see Daily GPI, July 27). Forecasters at Colorado State University have said they expect to see 16 named storms form in the Atlantic Basin, with nine turning into hurricanes, five of them intense (see Daily GPI, June 2) and MDA EarthSat has also forecast above-average numbers of named storms and hurricanes (see Daily GPI, May 18).

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.

The hurricane season officially ends Nov. 30.

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