Expert: Hurricanes won't hit so hard

Friday, August 4th 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

Fort Collins, C.O.(AP)--Hurricane forecaster William Gray
said Thursday the 2000 season will not be as bad as first

In his June forecast, the Colorado State University professor
predicted 12 named storms, eight hurricanes and four major

Data received since the official start of the season June 1 has
convinced Gray there will be only 11 named storms, seven hurricanes
and three major hurricanes.

He said cooler Atlantic Ocean surface water temperatures and a
weakening La Nina are responsible for the declining threat. The
season still will be busier than the average of 9.3 named storms,
5.8 hurricanes and 2.2 major hurricanes.

The late onset of storms is not a factor in his decision to
revise his forecast.

"The fact that we haven't had an early season storm doesn't
mean anything," Gray said. "There is no correlation between June
and July storms and what may take place later in the season; in
fact, there's some evidence for a slight negative correlation
(i.e., the absence of early season storms is made up for by
late-season activity."

He said he expects the main season to occur more or less on
scheduled during the 60 days starting Aug. 20.

"We thought we had verification that La Nina would continue
relatively strong throughout the season, but it appears to be
fading a little more rapidly than we expected," Gray said. "Under
those circumstances, we're reducing our early June forecast numbers
a little, although people should remember that there still is the
possibility of this being a very active season, especially compared
with the 1970-1994 period."

Gray has warned that a decline in hurricanes from 1970-94 has
lulled southeastern coastal dwellers into a false sense of
security, particularly with the population boom in the region.

What coastal dwellers should anticipate, Gray said, is an active
hurricane season but slightly weaker than those that occurred in
1995, 1996, 1998 and 1999. The five years beginning in 1995
constitute the five most active consecutive years of hurricane
activity in history, producing 65 named storms, 41 hurricanes and
20 major hurricanes.