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Active hurricane season predicted

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Colorado State University hurricane researchers predict an above-average Atlantic hurricane season this year, according to a university report.

The CSU Tropical Meteorology Project team predicts 14 named storms during the Atlantic hurricane season, which runs from June 1 to Nov. 30. Of those, researchers expect seven to become hurricanes and three to reach major hurricane strength with sustained winds of 111 mph or greater.

The team bases its forecasts on more than 60 years of historical data that include Atlantic sea surface temperatures, sea level pressures, vertical wind shear levels (the change in wind direction and speed with height in the atmosphere), El Niño (warming of waters in the central and eastern tropical Pacific), and other factors.

Researchers say the 2018 prediction is based on a relatively low likelihood of a significant El Niño. The western tropical North Atlantic is currently slightly warmer than normal, while the eastern tropical Atlantic is slightly cooler than normal. Colder-than-normal sea surface temperatures provide less fuel for tropical cyclone formation and intensification. They are also associated with a more stable atmosphere as well as drier air, both of which suppress organized thunderstorm activity necessary for hurricane development.

The report includes the following probability of major hurricanes making landfall:

  • 63 percent for the entire U.S. coastline (average for the last century is 52 percent)
  • 39 percent for the U.S. East Coast, including the Florida peninsula (average for the last century is 31 percent)
  • 38 percent for the Gulf Coast from the Florida panhandle westward to Brownsville (average for the last century is 30 percent)
  • 52 percent for the Caribbean (average for the last century is 42 percent)

The CSU team will issue forecast updates on May 31, July 2 and Aug. 2.

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