WSI Corp. foresees a total of 16 named storms, including nine hurricanes, four of them intense (Category Three or greater) in the 2008 season, an increase of one named storm from its previous forecast and significantly more storms than the 1950-2007 average of 9.7 named storms, 5.9 hurricanes and 2.3 intense hurricanes.

Most forecasters this year called for an active or above-average Atlantic hurricane season, and so far their predictions appear to have been accurate. There have already been 12 named storms including six hurricanes, three of them major hurricanes, but conditions in the Atlantic have resulted in a relatively quiet period recently.

A more favorable environment for tropical storm development is likely to return sometime before mid-October, according to WSI seasonal forecaster Todd Crawford.

“Because of this, there will likely be another period of enhanced activity, with a few more named storms likely to occur before the season ends,” Crawford said.

The WSI forecast suggests that four more named storms will occur before the Nov. 30 close of the hurricane season. WSI said it expects three more hurricanes, one of them intense.

WSI previously forecast 15 named storms, including nine hurricanes, four of them Category Three or greater (see Daily GPI, Aug. 27).

Other forecasters predicting an above-average hurricane season this year included the Colorado State University hurricane team (see Daily GPI, Sept. 3; Aug. 6), the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Climate Prediction Center (see Daily GPI, Aug. 8) and MDA EarthSat (see Daily GPI, April 16). meteorologist Joe Bastardi said the East Coast would be at greater risk this season even though he said the number of named storms would be about average, and Gulf of Mexico interests could expect seven to 10 days with at least the threat of weather disruptions (see Daily GPI, May 13).

In June the Energy Department’s Energy Information Administration (EIA) said it expected a total of 11.3 million bbl of crude oil and 78 Bcf of natural gas to be shut in in the Gulf of Mexico (GOM) during the 2008 hurricane season (see Daily GPI, June 12). The prediction was based on the results of a Monte Carlo hurricane outage simulation, which is conditioned on how NOAA’s most recent predictions for the level of Atlantic Basin hurricane activity compare to historical activity, the EIA said. A report issued this summer by energy consultant IHS Inc. said the average impact on U.S. oil and natural gas production from GOM hurricanes over a 45-year period was “relatively modest” and the impact on energy supplies “typically short-lived” (see Daily GPI, June 5).

The Atlantic Basin has produced four hurricanes and two tropical storms since late August. Hurricane Gustav slammed ashore near Cocodrie, LA, on Sept. 2. Hurricane Hanna came ashore days later near the North Carolina/South Carolina border and drenched much of the East Coast. Hurricane Ike slammed into the Texas coast at Galveston as a Category Two hurricane Sept. 13, bringing with it torrential rain, a storm surge in excess of 20 feet and maximum sustained winds of 110 mph. Hurricane force winds were reported across the Ohio Valley as Ike moved north, eventually dissipating as it moved into southeastern Canada, and restoration efforts are still under way (see related story). Hurricane Kyle passed to the east of Bermuda and headed north, losing its tropical characteristics as it sideswiped southwestern Nova Scotia. Tropical Storm Josephine remained in the Atlantic and never really threatened the North American mainland.

This week Tropical Storm Laura, the twelfth named storm of the 2008 hurricane season, was moving north over the North Atlantic and was expected to approach the Irish coast this weekend, the National Hurricane Center said.

Tropical Storm Arthur, the first tropical storm of the 2008 Atlantic hurricane season, developed May 31 in the western Caribbean Sea and wasted little time in moving ashore over Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula, where it was downgraded to a tropical depression on June 1. Bertha meandered through much of the Atlantic between July 3 and July 20, threatening Bermuda and twice becoming a hurricane, but never threatened gas or oil interests.

In July Hurricane Dolly brought heavy rain and wind speeds of more than 100 mph when it made landfall at South Padre Island near Brownsville, TX. Also in July, Tropical Storm Cristobal stayed in the Atlantic as it traveled northeast, eventually being downgraded to an extratropical depression as it moved into cooler North Atlantic waters.

Tropical Storm Edouard came ashore in the Sabine Pass area of southeast Texas on Aug. 5. It never developed enough to attain hurricane status, but it remained a strong tropical storm while coming ashore with maximum sustained winds of 65 mph before weakening into a tropical depression and dissipating in north-central Texas. Tropical Storm Fay moved very slowly up Florida’s west coast before crossing the state to dump heavy rains onto Georgia, Tennessee and the Carolinas in late August.

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