Atlantic Hurricane Season Likely To Be Above Normal

Wednesday, April 4th 2007, 11:09 am
By: News On 6

NEW ORLEANS (AP) _ This year's hurricane season will likely be more active than normal, the director of the National Hurricane Center director warned on Wednesday, one day after a leading researcher forecast a ``very active'' season.

The El Nino weather pattern that suppressed hurricane development last year has diminished, and wind patterns appear to be shifting in a way that would lead tropical systems toward land rather than keeping them at sea, center director Bill Proenza said at the National Hurricane Conference.

It appears that ``we tend to go back to an above normal season'' this year, in line with a theory that the Atlantic is in a decades-long active period that started in 1995, he said.

Still ``there are a lot of things that could happen in the atmosphere that could have a bearing on the season,'' he said.

El Nino is the periodic warming of the tropical Pacific Ocean that can affect weather around the world.

William Gray, a top hurricane forecaster on Tuesday predicted a ``very active'' season this year with at least nine hurricanes _ five of them major hurricanes _ and a good chance that one major hurricane will hit the U.S. coast.

Gray, based at Colorado State University, predicts a total of 17 named storms this year.

The Atlantic hurricane season, which runs from June 1 to Nov. 30, averages 9.6 named storms, 5.9 hurricanes and 2.3 intense hurricanes.

The National Hurricane Center will issue its forecast for the 2007 season in late May.