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Forecasters expect seven Atlantic hurricanes in 2008

NOAA file image of dual hurricanes in action off the North American coast.
by Staff Writers
Miami (AFP) Dec 7, 2007
Next year's Atlantic hurricane activity should be slightly higher than average, forecasters said Thursday, following a cyclonic season that was quieter than anticipated but caused devastation in central America.

A total of 13 named storms are expected to form in 2008, including seven that will become hurricanes, according to a report by the prominent Colorado State University forecast team.

Three of the storms are expected to develop into major hurricanes, meaning they will pack winds of at least 178 kilometers (111 miles) per hour.

The forecast team said there was a 60 percent chance that at least one major hurricane will make landfall on the US coastline during next year.

"Despite fairly inactive 2006 and 2007 hurricane seasons, we believe that the Atlantic basin is still in an active hurricane cycle," said forecaster William Gray.

"This active cycle is expected to continue at least for another decade or two. After that, we're likely to enter a quieter Atlantic major hurricane period like we experienced during the quarter-century periods of 1970-1994 and 1901-1925."

The team said it expected continued fairly warm tropical and north Atlantic sea-surface temperatures, prevalent in most years since 1995, as well as neutral or weak La Nina conditions -- a recipe for enhanced Atlantic basin hurricane activity.

This year saw 14 named storms form in the Atlantic, including six hurricanes.

Two of those hurricanes hit land with rare fury, packing maximum sustained winds of more than 249 kilometers (155 miles) per hour.

In August, Hurricane Dean killed at least 29 people in a rampage through the Caribbean and Mexico. The following month, Hurricane Felix killed about 150 people and wrought a trail of devastation along Nicaragua's impoverished Caribbean coast.

The United States was largely spared, and the comparatively small Hurricane Humberto was the only one to make a US landfall when it slammed into Texas in September.

This year's six-month Atlantic hurricane season, which ended on October 30, again demonstrated that forecasting cyclones remains an inexact science.

The Colorado University experts had initially predicted 17 named storms, nine of them hurricanes would form in the Atlantic basin this year.

Last year also had been quieter than initially feared, in sharp contrast with 2004, and particularly the record-setting 2005 season when Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans and part of the US Gulf coast.

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Recipe For A Storm: The Ingredients For More Powerful Atlantic Hurricanes
Madison WI (SPX) Nov 30, 2007
As the world warms, the interaction between the Atlantic Ocean and atmosphere may be the recipe for stronger, more frequent hurricanes. University of Wisconsin-Madison scientists have found that the Atlantic organizes the ingredients for a powerful hurricane season to create a situation where either everything is conducive to hurricane activity or nothing is-potentially making the Atlantic more vulnerable to climate change than the world's other hurricane hot spots.

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