Forecaster AccuWeather Cuts 2009 Atlantic Hurricane Season Forecast

May 19, 2009

Private forecaster has cut its forecast for this year’s Atlantic Hurricane season, which begins June 1, to 10 named storms from the 12 it predicted in March.

AccuWeather forecast six of the storms will be hurricanes, down from eight predicted in March, with two of them rated category 3 or stronger on the five-step Saffir-Simpson scale.

AccuWeather’s forecast is the latest of several to predict a less active hurricane season than in 2008, when hurricanes Gustav and Ike shut offshore oil and natural gas production platforms in the Gulf of Mexico and refineries in Louisiana and Texas.

Forecasts from AccuWeather and the company’s Chief Long-Range and Hurricane Forecaster Joe Bastardi are closely watched in energy markets.

AccuWeather predicts three tropical storms will hit the U.S. coastline, including two hurricanes, one of which could be at least category 3 strength. That forecast is unchanged from March.

“Anywhere along the U.S. coast is susceptible to an impact, but the Texas coast early in the season and East Coast from Carolinas northward during the heart of the season are areas that have us worried,” said Bastardi in a statement.

A weak El Nino pattern of warm water in the Pacific Ocean is expected to create wind shear to blow apart storms while cool water in the tropical Atlantic ocean will rob the storms of their primary energy source as dust and dry air blowing from Africa will inhibit storm development, AccuWeather said.

There were 16 named tropical storms in the 2008 hurricane season including eight hurricanes, of which five were considered major.

Half of the 2008 tropical storms impacted the U.S. coast, including four hurricanes.

(Reporting by Erwin Seba; Editing by David Gregorio)

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