US 2008 storm forecasts on target - university

19 November 2008 16:37  [Source: ICIS news]

TORONTO (ICIS news)--The US 2008 hurricane season was highly destructive with activity at well above-average levels, US forecasters at Colorado State University said on Wednesday, but added that their forecasting techniques had improved when compared with 2006 and 2007.

 

"The year was one of the most destructive years on record from a damage perspective," said Philip Klotzbach and William Gray, forecasters at the university’s department of atmospheric science.

 

Hurricane Ike alone was estimated to cost approximately $8bn in insured damage, making it the fifth most damaging inflation-adjusted hurricane in US history.
 

At the same time, the university’s forecasting techniques had proved very successful at anticipating this level of activity, Klotzbach and Gray said in a detailed report reviewing the 2008 season.

 

“Unlike our predictions for the 2006 and 2007 hurricane seasons, we are very pleased with the skill of our forecasts for this year,” they said.

 

“We anticipated a well above-average season, and the season had activity at well above-average levels,” they said.

 

Overall, 16 named storms formed during the season of which five were major hurricanes, compared with 15 named storms the university had forecast in April.

 

Since aircraft reconnaissance began in 1944, only seven years have had more than five major hurricanes in the Atlantic basin.

 

During the season, 29.50 hurricane days occurred, more than twice the number of hurricane days that occurred in 2007.

 

However, there were no category 5 hurricanes in 2008, only the second year since 2002 with no category 5 hurricanes in the Atlantic, the researchers said.

 

The full report, available on the university’s website, describes all 2008 tropical storms and hurricanes in further detail, including hurricanes Gustav and Ike which paralyzed the petrochemicals and energy infrastructure on the US Gulf coast in September.

 

The university will issue a forecast for 2009 on 10 December.

 

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By: Stefan Baumgarten
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