Fewer named storms than recent years may be welcome news, major landfalling hurricane is still possible.
STATE COLLEGE, Pa. March 18, 2009 - AccuWeather.com Chief Long-Range and Hurricane Forecaster Joe Bastardi has released an early hurricane season forecast for 2009 which calls for fewer landfalls in the United States as well as a lower overall number of named storms. However, storms may be more likely to form in the Atlantic Basin closer to the coast and the possibility of a major hurricane making landfall in the U.S. cannot be ruled out.
"This year's forecast shows only half as many impacts on the United States as there were last year," Bastardi said. "But keep in mind, it only takes one major hurricane hitting a highly populated area to have devastating impact."
"Early indications show a reduction in the overall number of named storms and of major hurricanes in the Atlantic basin compared to last year, but the number of storms should still be near or a little above normal."
Bastardi points to several factors influencing the forecast, including:
- The weak La Niña in the Pacific Ocean will dissipate. A reverse to a weak El Niño, which is associated with decreased hurricane activity in the Atlantic, is most likely in the middle to latter part of the hurricane season.
- The expected orientation of high pressure in the eastern Atlantic will produce stronger easterly trade winds across northern Africa than last year. This will result in increased dust and dry air being pushed westward into the Atlantic where many tropical storms originate.
- Cooler water temperatures in the deep tropical Atlantic, a typical breeding ground for hurricanes, which can reduce hurricane activity and intensity. This may create a season in which storms are reaching a greater intensity further north and east than last year, leading to less impact in the Caribbean areas hit hard last year.
- A continuing multi-decadal pattern of higher-than-average water temperatures in the Atlantic, raising the chance of major storms near the East Coast until about 2020.
Based on these and other considerations, Bastardi has made the following specific forecasts for overall numbers and types of storms during the 2009 season.
Total storms 13
Major hurricanes 2
Storms west of 55°W 10
Major hurricanes 1-2
Storms that impact U.S. coast 4
Major hurricanes 1
In addition to his forecasting work available on AccuWeather.com, Bastardi regularly writes for the AccuWeather.com Professional site, AccuWeather.com Energy Pro, and for private clients.
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