Hurricane forecast revised upward

FORT LAUDERDALE – Hurricane forecasters are predicting 15 named storms for 2008 including eight hurricanes – with four of those being intense – or what would amount to a well-above average season, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel reported in a story this week.

Saying conditions have become more favorable for hurricanes to form, Colorado State University forecasters William Gray and Phil Klotzbach revised an earlier 2008 forecast upward.

“We are calling for a very active hurricane season this year, but not as active as the 2004 and 2005 seasons,” Klotzbach said in a statement.

If their forecast holds, it would amount to a busy, potentially destructive tropical year, as on average a season sees 11 named storms, including six hurricanes, with two of those being intense, with winds greater than 110 mph, the newspaper reported.

Gray and Klotzbach predict a 69 percent chance the U.S. Coastline, from Maine to Texas, will be struck by at least one major hurricane, and called for a 45 percent chance that a major hurricane will hit the U.S. East Coast, including the Florida Peninsula.

Some question value of forecasts
After over-estimating the 2006 and 2007 seasons, Gray and Klotzbach came under criticism from meteorologists, officials and residents, who questioned whether long-range seasonal forecasts have value, the Sun-Sentinel reported.

Even some forecasters at the National Hurricane Center in Miami-Dade County say the long-range forecasts could hamper the way residents prepare for the season. As a result, they are calling on their parent agency, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to de-emphasize its seasonal outlook, which is to be released in May.

In five of the past 10 years, Gray and Klotzbach drafted forecasts in April where they were relatively close to the actual number of named storms, hurricanes and intense hurricanes that formed, the newspaper reported.

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