Forecaster calls for above-average Atlantic hurricane season next year

Friday, December 3rd 2004, 6:22 am
By: News On 6

FORT COLLINS, Colo. (AP) _ Hurricane forecasters are calling for an above-average Atlantic hurricane season again next year after one of the most destructive seasons on record.

``We believe that 2005 will continue the trend of enhanced major hurricane activity in the Atlantic basin that we have seen over the past 10 years,'' Colorado State University forecaster William Gray said Friday.

Gray's forecast team predicts there will be 11 named storms, with six reaching hurricane status. Of the six, three likely will develop into major hurricanes with sustained winds of 111 mph or greater. There is a 69 percent chance of at least one of the major hurricanes striking the U.S. mainland, Gray said.

The long-term year average for storms is 9.6 per season, with six becoming hurricanes and 2.3 becoming intense hurricanes.

The Atlantic hurricane season runs from June 1 through Nov. 30. This year, there were 15 named storms in the Atlantic region, including nine hurricanes, six of them major. Florida was hit by four hurricanes in August and September, a barrage unparalleled in history going back 130 years, forecasters said.

The unusual conditions that made for so many strong storms and so many storms crossing Florida are not expected next year, said Philip Klotzbach, a member of Gray's forecast team.

As the Atlantic hurricane season was winding up Tuesday, the 15th storm, Tropical Storm Otto, formed far in the central Atlantic. It petered out Thursday and never posed a threat to land.