Private Firm WSI Cuts U.S. Hurricane Forecast to 19 Named Storms

July 21, 2010

Private weather forecaster WSI Corp cut its forecast for named storms in the 2010 Atlantic hurricane season on Tuesday, but still sees an active season with water temperatures and wind conditions conducive to violent storms.

In its latest tropical storm update, WSI called for 19 named storms, down from 20 in its June forecast, but maintained its outlook for 11 hurricanes and 5 intense hurricanes of category three or higher.

The 2010 forecast is well above the 1950-2009 averages of 10 named storms, 6 hurricanes, and 2 intense hurricanes.

“Record warm tropical Atlantic Ocean temperatures and an enabling wind shear environment should result in a very active tropical season this year,” said Dr. Todd Crawford, WSI’s chief meteorologist.

The disappearance of the El Nino event and a decrease in vertical wind shear both point to the potential for more Atlantic storms, WSI said.

A slow start to the hurricane season led to the downward revision in named storms. A pocket of dry air in the Atlantic is likely to limit development in the near term, WSI said, while August to October is expected to be a very active period.

WSI’s models also indicate that the area from the Outer Banks of North Carolina northward to Maine is twice as likely as normal to experience a hurricane this year.

“Our model suggests that the threat to the Northeast coast this season is on a par with that in Florida and the Gulf coastal states,” WSI said.

The Atlantic hurricane season runs from June 1 to Nov. 30.

In 2005, Hurricane Katrina was responsible for the deaths of around 1,500 people on the U.S. Gulf Coast and caused more than $115 billion in damages.

Katrina and Rita, which hit the same year, shut some oil refineries for months resulting in about 142 million barrels of oil product loss.

Offshore drilling in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico is responsible for roughly 30 percent of total domestic oil production and 11 percent of natural gas production, according to 2009 government figures.

(Reporting by Edward McAllister; Editing by Walter Bagley)

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