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Old December 3rd 04, 05:09 PM posted to
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Default Forecaster sees fewer Atlantic hurricanes in 2005

17:43 03Dec2004 RTRS-Forecaster sees fewer Atlantic hurricanes in 2005

MIAMI, Dec 3 (Reuters) - Next year's Atlantic hurricane season will
again be more active than usual but is unlikely to be a repeat of this
year's disaster, a noted storm forecaster said on Friday.
On the heels of the most-destructive season in more than a decade,
Colorado State University professor William Gray said the 2005 season will
produce 11 tropical storms and hurricanes, slightly more than the average
but four less than last year.
Next year's storms are also unlikely to be as intense or to hit land as
frequently as this season, which officially ended on Tuesday.
Of the 15 tropical storms in the 2004 Atlantic season, nine developed
into hurricanes. Six of those were major hurricanes, with sustained winds of
more than 110 mph (177 kph).
Four of the hurricanes hit Florida in a six-week span, causing damage
that may exceed the $25-billion-plus toll of Hurricane Andrew in 1992.
Forecasters say it was a rare combination of powerful hurricanes and
unusual steering currents that caused Florida's pain this year.
"We do not anticipate this same optimal combination of hurricane
formation and steering conditions to be present in 2005," Philip Klotzbach,
a member of the Colorado State forecasting team, said in a written
statement. "Next year's landfall numbers are likely to be significantly less
than what occurred in 2004."
The team bases its forecasts on readings of sea water temperatures,
atmospheric winds and pressures, the strength of the El Nino warm-water
phenomenon in the eastern Pacific, and other climate predictors.
Of the predicted 11 storms next year, Gray said six will become
hurricanes, with sustained winds of more than 74 mph (119 kph), and three of
those will be major hurricanes.
The average hurricane season produces 9.6 named storms, 5.9 hurricanes
and 2.3 major hurricanes.
Gray said there was a 69 percent chance -- the long-term average is 52
percent -- of at least one major hurricane hitting the U.S. coast next year.
For storm-battered Florida and the U.S. east coast, the chance of being
hit by a major hurricane is 49 percent, compared to the long-term average of
31 percent.
Florida is still recovering from beatings administered by hurricanes
Charley, Frances, Ivan and Jeanne, which all struck during August and
September. It was the first time a single state had been hit by four
hurricanes since 1886.
Grenada, Jamaica, the Cayman Islands, the Dominican Republic and Haiti
also were punished by hurricanes this year.
Gray's team predicted El Nino will be "neutral to slightly warm" next
year. Strong El Nino events, with very warm water, tend to dampen Atlantic
hurricane activity.

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