There will be significantly more hurricanes during the upcoming Atlantic hurricane season than there were in 2009, according to Andover, MA-based WSI Corp., which increased its 2010 forecast to include 16 named storms, including nine hurricanes, five of them intense (Category Three or greater). The 2010 hurricane season, which officially begins on June 1, could be the most active since 2005, WSI said.

WSI had previously forecast that 13 named storms, including seven hurricanes, with three of them intense, would form this year (see Daily GPI, Jan. 27). The revised forecast calls for more storms than 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 last year, including three hurricanes, two of them intense.

“The 2009 tropical season was the quietest since 1997, as an emerging El Nino event combined with relatively cool tropical Atlantic waters to suppress widespread storm development,” said WSI seasonal forecaster Todd Crawford. “However, the primary drivers for tropical activity have reversed course this year and the stage appears to be set for a very busy season in 2010. The El Nino event is steadily weakening, resulting in a decrease in tropical Pacific convection and a concomitant decrease in the vertical wind shear that typically acts as a detriment to tropical Atlantic development.

“More importantly, however, eastern and central tropical Atlantic sea surface temperatures are currently at record warm levels for April, even warmer than the freakishly active season of 2005. Our forecast numbers are more likely to rise than fall in future forecast updates heading into the season.”

The East Coast from North Carolina’s Outer Banks north to Maine is twice as likely as normal to experience a hurricane this year, WSI said.

“Our model suggests that the threat to the Northeast coast this season is on par with that in Florida and the Gulf coastal states,” Crawford said.

Earlier this month Colorado State University (CSU) forecasters said they expect 15 named storms, including eight hurricanes, four of them intense, to form during the Atlantic hurricane season (see Daily GPI, April 8). According to the CSU forecast there is a 58% probability of at least one major hurricane tracking into the Caribbean this year, and a 44% probability of at least one major hurricane making landfall on the Gulf Coast between the Florida Panhandle and Brownsville, TX. Chief Long Range Forecaster Joe Bastardi has said he expects the 2010 Atlantic hurricane season to be much more active than the 2009 season, with seven named storms, including five hurricanes, making landfall on the U.S. mainland (see Daily GPI, March 11). Bastardi’s forecast calls for 16-18 tropical storms this year, with 15 of them in the western Atlantic or Gulf of Mexico. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Climate Prediction Center has also predicted an active Atlantic hurricane season based on a faltering El Nino (see Daily GPI, Feb. 8).

WSI’s next update on the 2010 tropical season is scheduled to be released May 26.

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