US likely to be threatened by major hurricanes in 2011 – forecast

06 April 2011 16:29  [Source: ICIS news]

More hurricanes forecasted for 2011HOUSTON (ICIS)--The 2011 Atlantic hurricane season should be above average with 16 named storms, a team of meteorologists said on Wednesday, giving a 72% chance for at least one major hurricane to make US landfall.

Major hurricanes carry winds of 111 miles/hour (179 km/hour) and higher. Historically, the US has a 52% annual risk of at least one such landfalling storm.

Hurricanes can disrupt the North American petrochemical industry, since oil and gas production is concentrated in Gulf of Mexico and much of the country's plants are on the US Gulf coast.

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

“We remain - since 1995 - in a favourable multi-decadal period for enhanced Atlantic Basin hurricane activity, which is expected to continue for the next 10-15 years or so,” said William Gray, chief forecaster with Colorado State University (CSU).

Gray noted that with the exceptions of destructive hurricane seasons in 2004 and 2005, the US coast had not experienced a major landfalling hurricane since 1999.

“This recent 9 of 11-year period without any major landfall events should not be expected to continue,” he said.

The Colorado State team forecasts a slightly more active 2011 season than US firm AccuWeather did in its forecast released this week.

CSU projects 16 named storms (winds of at least 39 miles/hour), nine hurricanes (winds of at least 74 miles/hour) and five major hurricanes. These are well above historical seasonal averages of 10, six and two, respectively.

We expect that anomalously warm tropical Atlantic sea surface temperatures combined with neutral tropical Pacific sea surface temperatures will contribute to an active season,” said CSU research scientist Phil Klotzbach.

No named storms made US landfall in 2010, though the outer bands of Hurricane Alex and Tropical Storm Hermine disrupted south Texas refineries after striking northern Mexico.

Several storms hit Mexico, leading to flooding and logistics problems throughout the region that lasted for weeks.

Overall, the 2010 season was well above average in hurricane activity, with 19 named storms, 12 hurricanes and five major hurricanes. These figures were in line with the CSU group’s prior predictions.

The CSU team issues four hurricane season forecasts per year along with a seasonal recap. Its next forecast will be released on 1 June.

The 2011 Atlantic hurricane season will last from 1 June to 30 November.


By: Ben DuBose
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