for National Geographic News
Just as Hurricane Gustav was dissipating and three tropical storms were brewing in the Atlantic, forecasters predicted that September hurricane activity would be well above normal for the 2008 Atlantic hurricane season.
Five named storms should form this month, according to Colorado State University forecasters William Gray and Phil Klotzbach. That tally includes newly named tropical storm Josephine but not Hurricane Gustav or tropical storms Hannah and Ike, as they were named in August.
Of the five predicted storms, four are expected to become hurricanes, meaning they would have winds of at least 74 miles (119 kilometers) an hour. Two are forecast to become major hurricanes—Category 3 or higher, with winds exceeding 110 miles (177 kilometers) an hour.
Low atmospheric pressure and warm seas encourage storms, and both are present now in the tropical Atlantic Basin—which includes the Atlantic Ocean, the Caribbean Sea, and the Gulf of Mexico (map)—according to Klotzbach.
"We have seen some of the lowest pressure readings on record in the tropical Atlantic during August," Klotzbach said in a statement. "Water temperatures in the tropical Atlantic remain at above-average values.
"A combination of these two factors typically leads to an active September."
Jeff Masters, director of the private weather forecasting service Weather Underground, said he agrees with the prediction of an active September.
"I don't see any letup over the next two weeks," Masters said. "There could be two to three active named storms all the time in the Atlantic for the next two weeks."
In April, Colorado State's Klotzbach and Gray had forecast a "well above average" 2008 Atlantic hurricane season. They pointed out in the new statement that June and July were also very active, spawning three named storms: Hurricane Bertha, Hurricane Dolly, and tropical storm Cristobal.
Including tropical storm Arthur, which formed in May, ahead of the official season, 10 of the 15 named storms forecast in April have already taken shape.
Hanna, Ike, and Josephine
As Hurricane Gustav wanes, forecasters—along with U.S. residents from the eastern Carolinas to the Gulf Coast—are warily watching tropical storms Hanna, Ike, and Josephine.
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