Hurricane Forecast Revised Downward

August 3, 2006

Forecasters at Colorado State University (CSU) have reduced the number of tropical storms they think will form in the Atlantic this season. But they still predict that three major hurricanes will form before November 30.

CSU forecasters Phil Klotzbach and William Gray said this morning that 15 named storms will form in the Atlantic Basin, which includes the Caribbean Sea and the Gulf of Mexico.

Of those storms, seven will develop into hurricanes with winds of at least 74 miles (119 kilometers) an hour. Three will evolve into major storms with winds of at least 111 miles (178 kilometers) an hour, they say.

In May, the forecasters had said this hurricane season would be "very active," producing five major storms between June 1 and November 30.

Lull Before the Storm?

The 2006 season seems quiet in comparison to the raucous summer of 2005, when an unprecedented 28 named storms formed.

So far in 2006 there have been only three named storms. By this time last year two major hurricanes had already formed in the Atlantic.

Forecasters warn, however, that this year's relative calm is no reason for coastal residents to drop their guard.

"Last year was an exception," said Lixion Avila, a forecaster at the National Hurricane Center (NHC) in Miami, Florida. "Last year the ocean was very warm. This year it's not as warm as last year."

Hurricanes derive their power from warm ocean water. (See an interactive feature on how hurricanes form.)

Still, ocean temperatures this summer are slightly above normal, says NHC forecaster James Franklin.

In 2005 the Atlantic was 3 or 4 degrees Fahrenheit (1.7 to 2.2 degrees Celsius) above normal. This year, the water is about 1 degree Fahrenheit (0.5 degree Celsius) above normal.

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