As the 2012 Atlantic hurricane season officially kicked off on Friday (Jun. 1), a team of storm forecasters from Colorado State University in Fort Collins have increased their predictions for this season’s activities.
According to the research team’s updated forecast, they now believe 13 — up three from the April forecast — named storms will form in the Atlantic with five of those storms reaching hurricane strength (74 mph winds) and two of those hurricanes becoming Category 3 (sustained winds of 111 mph or more) or greater.
The team — lead by climatologists Dr. William Gray and Phil Klotzbach — attributed the revised numbers to cooling off of the Atlantic and the potential development of El Nino — warmer than normal sea-surface temperatures in the Pacific Ocean.
“We have increased our numbers slightly from our early April forecast, due largely to our uncertainty as to whether an El Nino will develop later this summer as well as somewhat marginal Atlantic basin conditions,” Klotzbach, lead author of the forecasts said in a release.
Dr. Gray added that the two preseason storms, Alberto and Beryl, were included in the revised prediction, but are no indication of how active the rest of the season will be.
“The only two seasons on record with two named storms prior to June 1 were 1887 and 1908,” Gray said. “While 1887 was a very active season, 1908 had average levels of activity. The last season with a U.S. landfall prior to June 1 was 1976, which was a relatively quiet season.”
In 2011, Colorado State predicted 16 storms, with nine becoming hurricanes. Their predictions were only slightly off as the season produced 19 storms in the Atlantic, which tied for the third-most active season in records going back to 1851
USA Today reports the CSU storm team will issue a final hurricane season forecast update on August 3.
East coast readers: What are your thoughts on CSU’s 2012 Hurricane Forecast?