Forecasters Predict Busy Hurricane Season

It's going to be a busy hurricane season. That's according to some of the top experts in the field. As Houston Public Radio's Laurie Johnson reports, unlike last year, forecasters say atleast one major hurricane should make landfall this year.

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The man considered to be the leading expert in hurricane forecasting predicts 17 named storms will develop in the Atlantic this season. Colorado State University's William Gray says the season won't be as active as 2004 or 2005, but it will be busy.

"We're projecting a La Nina, or a cold water event as opposed to an El Nino warm water event for this year. And hurricane activity in the Atlantic is typically more active in a La Nina year, or cold years."

Conditions are favorable for hurricanes to develop this season. Gray's team is predicting nine of the 17 storms will become hurricanes with five of those developing into intense or major hurricanes. Local hurricane expert and Impact Weather Meteorologist Chris Hebert says Texas is likely to escape the brunt of the season.

"I've done a lot of research as far as this type of pattern that we're in. It's very similar to the 1940s and '50s and '60s. I found a very strong correlation between this pattern and landfalls along the Florida/East Coast up through the Mid-Atlantic Coast. But there's less of a correlation to increased activity along the Texas Coast in this type of pattern."

Last year, no hurricanes made landfall on the U.S. coastline. But that's actually an anomoly. In the past 60 years, there have only been 12 seasons without hurricane landfall. And Hebert says although the forecast looks good for Texas, storms will develop in the Carribbean and there's always the chance one could head our way.

"Be thankful that you had a whole year last year to get ready, to continue your preparations. Get ready now. Chances are, if the Texas Coast is going to be hit, it's going to be during the month of August and probably into the first half of September. That's the prime period for Texas. As we move into mid-September and later on into October the chance of landfall shifts eastward to Louisiana and then to Florida."

The reality, Hebert says, is that a major hurricane will hit the U.S. again and it's better to be prepared. The probability of a major hurricane making landfall this year is 74 percent. Laurie Johnson, Houston Public Radio News.

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