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Hurricanes: AccuWeather Calls For More Active 2010 Season

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From a press release

February 10, 2010 —AccuWeather.com Hurricane Center meteorologists, led by Chief Long-Range Meteorologist and Hurricane Forecaster Joe Bastardi, have released their early hurricane season forecast for the Atlantic Basin for 2010. The forecast is calling for a much more active 2010 season with above-normal threats on the U.S. coastline.

“This year has the chance to be an extreme season," said Bastardi. "It is certainly much more like 2008 than 2009 as far as the overall threat to the United States' East and Gulf coasts."

Bastardi is forecasting seven landfalls. Five will be hurricanes and two or three of the hurricanes will be major landfalls for the U.S. He is calling for 16 to 18 tropical storms in total, 15 of which would be in the western Atlantic or Gulf of Mexico and therefore a threat to land. In a typical season, there are about 11 named storms of which two to three will impact the coast of the United States.

There are a number of physical drivers that have Bastardi concerned for this upcoming hurricane season. These include:

  • The rapidly weakening El Niņo.

  • Warmer ocean temperatures in the typical Atlantic tropical breeding grounds compared to last year. Tropical storms draw energy from warm water.

  • Weakening trade winds which reduce the amount of dry air injected into the tropics from Africa. 

  • Higher humidity levels which provides additional upward motion in the air and fuels tropical storm development.

Bastardi compared a number of years to the upcoming season in terms of storm set up including 1964, 1995, and 1998. All were major impact seasons for the U.S. coast.

  • In 1964, Hurricane Cleo struck southeast Florida near Miami as a Category 2 storm and killed 217 people.

  • In 1995, Hurricane Opal made landfall in Pensacola, Florida as a Category 3 storm affecting 200 miles of coastline and causing $3 billion in damages.

  • In 1998 Hurricane Bonnie struck near Wilmington, North Carolina as a borderline Category 2 to Category 3 storm causing significant harm to crops and $1 billion in damages.

As Bastardi had predicted in last year’s hurricane forecast, the 2009 Atlantic hurricane season was a year far below the average, with eleven tropical depressions forming and only nine of those becoming tropical storms, the lowest number of named tropical storms or hurricanes since the 1997 season. 

The Atlantic hurricane season officially begins on June 1 and continues through November 30. These dates were selected because 97 percent of hurricane activity occurs during this six month period.