for National Geographic News
Four major hurricanes, including one with a good chance of hitting the United States, will form in the Atlantic Ocean during the upcoming hurricane season, experts said today.
Hurricane forecasters at Colorado State University (CSU) predict a "well above average" 2008 hurricane season, with 15 named tropical storms gathering between June 1 and November 30.
Long-term yearly averages are nine or ten named storms, six hurricanes, and two intense hurricanes per year.
Eight of the 2008 storms are expected to intensify into hurricanes, which are defined as having winds of at least 74 miles (119 kilometers) an hour.
East Coast Landfall
There is a 70 percent likelihood that a major hurricane will make landfall somewhere on the U.S. East Coast during the coming season, CSU forecasters William Gray and Phil Klotzbach said.
The forecasters did not speculate about where the hurricane is likely to come ashore.
Over the past hundred years, the likelihood of the East Coast being hit by a major hurricane has been about 50 percent.
Gray, who has been issuing long-range hurricane forecasts for decades, told National Geographic News that the summer of 2008 will continue a trend of above-average hurricane seasons that started in 1995.
The stormier summers have been due to ocean currents that cause an increase in the Atlantic's salt content, which in turn causes an increase in water temperature.
The fluctuations are cyclical, with warming and cooling cycles typically lasting about 30 years.
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