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Forecast: More Hurricanes Than Average Expected in '98

Forecast: More Hurricanes Than Average Expected in '98

If 1998 Atlantic hurricane predictions by faculty at Colorado State University are correct, the four-year period of 1995 through 1998 will have been the most active consecutive four years for hurricanes on record. This year's Atlantic hurricane activity is predicted to be "appreciably more than 1997 but less than the unusually active 1995 and 1996 seasons.

Still, 1998 should be significantly more active than the average of the generally suppressed hurricane seasons during the last 25 years and especially in comparison to the particularly quiet seasons of 1991-1994," reads a recent forecast from the university's Department of Atmospheric Science. Predicted for this year's season are 10 named storms, 50 storm days, six hurricanes, 25 hurricane days, two intense hurricanes, four intense hurricane days and a hurricane destruction potential of 70.

A named storm is a hurricane or tropical storm. A hurricane is a tropical cyclone with sustained low-level winds of 74 miles per hour or greater. A hurricane day is a measure of hurricane activity, one unit of which occurs as four six-hour periods during which a tropical cyclone is observed or estimated to have hurricane intensity winds. An intense hurricane reaches a sustained low-level wind of at least 111 miles per hour at some point in its lifetime. This constitutes a "category 3" or "major" hurricane. An intense hurricane day is four six-hour periods during which a hurricane has category 3 intensity or higher. Hurricane destruction potential is a measure of a hurricane's potential for wind and storm surge destruction defined as the sum of the square of a hurricane's maximum wind speed for each six-hour period of its existence.

On Friday, Colorado State will issue a report on the statistical probability of U.S. coastal landfall of intense (category 3-4-5) hurricanes for 1998.

Joe Fisher, Houston

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