75% Chance of Major Hurricane Hitting Atlantic Coast, Says Forecaster

August 5, 2010

The Colorado State University forecasting team Wednesday maintained its 2010 Atlantic hurricane season forecast of 18 named tropical storms, 10 expected to become hurricanes. It predicted five of the hurricanes would be major, of Category 3 or greater.

The CSU team saw a 75 percent probability of a major hurricane making landfall along the U.S. coastline.

The 2010 Atlantic hurricane season has been predicted to be very active, with one private forecaster, Weather Services International (WSI), foreseeing 20 named storms, 11 hurricanes and five intense hurricanes of Category 3 or greater. This is significantly above the long-term average taken between 1950-2009 which shows 10 named storms, six hurricanes and two intense hurricanes.

In addition to the risk that major hurricanes can pose to about one-quarter of U.S. oil production and more than a tenth of natural gas output offshore in the Gulf of Mexico, this year’s storms threaten to complicate efforts to address the environmental disaster of BP’s blown-out oil well.

Although the ruptured Macondo seabed well was provisionally capped in mid-July, halting the leak of oil from it into the Gulf of Mexico, storms could still disrupt ongoing efforts to “kill” the well with a permanent plug.

All of the major forecasters see a much more active season than last year’s season, which was one of the quietest in a decade with just nine tropical storms.

There have already been three named storms this season, Alex, Bonnie and Colin. Alex, the season’s first hurricane so far, drenched the Texas-Mexico border on April 1 as it made landfall as a Category 2 storm.

The season is just approaching its traditional busy phase, which runs from mid-August to October.

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