WeatherBug Issues 2009 Hurricane Outlook
WeatherBug predicts a slightly above-average season with 11 to 13 named storms (a storm is named when its winds reach 39 mph), with 6 to 8 of them becoming hurricanes (winds 74 mph or higher) and 3 to 4 becoming major hurricanes (Category 3 or higher; winds of at least 111 mph).
The long-term averages? 10 named storms, 6 hurricanes and 2 major hurricanes.
Keep reading for more on hurricane outlooks by WeatherBug and others...
"While we think this hurricane season will be less active than last year, we also expect it will be more active than an average season," said Mark Hoekzema, WeatherBug chief meteorologist.
Factors examined by WeatherBug in crafting the outlook include an expected weakening of La Nina conditions, possibly shifting to a weak El Nino, as well as ocean water temperatures and conditions in the Sahara desert.
"El Nino creates stronger westerly winds in the upper atmosphere, which prevent tropical weather systems from developing, especially in the Gulf and the Caribbean," Hoekzema said. However, "the warmer water temperatures in the North Atlantic may provide more fuel for hurricane development at high latitudes than last year.... "
According to upstreamonline.com, WeatherBug's 2008 hurricane outlook underestimated the season's storm totals, calling for 10 to 12 named storms (actual: 16) with 4 to 6 of them becoming hurricanes (actual: 8).
Next week, the hurricane team at Colorado State University is scheduled to issue an update to its December forecast, which called for 14 named storms, 7 hurricanes and 3 major hurricanes in 2009.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's hurricane outlook is expected in May. The official tropical season runs from June 1 to Nov. 30, but storms sometimes form a little before and after that period.
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