US forecasters predict busy 2008 hurricane season

07 December 2007 16:10  [Source: ICIS news]

HOUSTON (ICIS news)--Forecasters at Colorado State University are predicting that the Atlantic basin will have an above-average number of tropical storms next year, they said on Friday.

Hurricanes can disrupt the North American petrochemical industry, since production is concentrated in and along the Gulf of Mexico.

Even the threat of a major storm can disrupt oil and natural gas supplies, with companies having to evacuate Gulf platforms as a precaution.

The university's Tropical Meteorology Project is predicting that 13 named storms will form in the Atlantic basin during the 2008 hurricane season, which lasts from 1 June through 30 November, the forecasters said.

Out of the 13 storms, seven are predicted to become hurricanes, and three of those seven hurricanes will be major storms with sustained winds of at least 111 miles/hour (179km/hour).

The forecasters are predicting a 60% chance that at least one major hurricane will make landfall on the US coast in 2008, above the average of 52%. For the Gulf coast, the chance is 36%, up from an average of 30%.

The university's forecasters were off in their predictions for 2007. They predicted 17 named storms, when only 14 were observed, the forecasters said. They also predicted seven hurricanes, but six were observed.

The seasons experienced 33.5 named storm days, while the forecasters' predictions ranged from 53 to 85. The forecasters predicted 20-40 hurricane days, while the season experienced only 11.25.

"Despite fairly inactive 2006 and 2007 hurricane seasons, we believe that the Atlantic basin is still in an active hurricane cycle," meteorologist William Gray said in a statement.

"This active cycle is expected to continue at least for another decade or two," Gray said.

By: Al Greenwood
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