'Very active' hurricane season forecast
From Ed Payne
(CNN) -- On the eve the 2005 Atlantic hurricane season, forecasters at Colorado State University predicted it would be "very active" with 15 named tropical storms and eight hurricanes.
In a report released Tuesday, CSU's Tropical Meteorology Project (TMP) forecast half of those hurricanes will develop into major hurricanes ranked as Category 3 or higher on the Saffir-Simpson scale of hurricane strength.
A Category 3 storm has winds between 111-130 mph and can cause extensive damage. The worst storm, a Category 5, has winds greater than 155 mph and can cause catastrophic damage.
Hurricane season officially runs from June 1 to November 20.
The 2004 hurricane season saw four destructive hurricanes making landfall in the United States during a seven-week period in August and September -- three of them crossing the Florida peninsula.
It is believed the four storms caused more than $40 billion in damage.
During all of 2004, the entire Atlantic basin saw nine hurricanes, with six of them reaching major hurricane status. There has been an "overall increase in Atlantic basin major hurricane activity of the past ten years (1995-2004)," the forecast said.
Six hurricanes -- Alex, Charley, Frances, Gaston, Ivan and Jeanne -- hit the United States in 2004. Three tropical storms also struck the United States. Charley also hit western Cuba, while Frances and Jeanne also hit the Bahamas -- all were major hurricanes at the time.
In addition, Ivan hit Grenada and was felt on Jamaica, Grand Cayman and western Cuba, while Jeanne also hit the Dominican Republic as a hurricane and Puerto Rico as a strong tropical storm.
The TMP listed probabilities for at least one major hurricane making landfall on each of the following coastal areas:Entire U.S. coastline -- 77 percent (average for last century is 52 percent)U.S. East Coast including the Florida Peninsula -- 59 percent (average is 31 percent)Gulf Coast from the Florida Panhandle westward to Brownsville, Texas -- 44 percent (average is 30 percent)
The report also predicted an above-average risk of a major hurricane landfall in the Caribbean and in the Bahamas.
The TMP report falls at the midrange of the forecast of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the nation's weather agency. For the 2005 season, the NOAA predicted 12 to 15 named storms, seven to nine hurricanes, with three to five of them being major hurricanes. (Full story)
The increase in hurricanes over the last decade has prompted some scientists to cite global warming as the cause -- a theory the authors of the 2005 hurricane forecast do not buy.
"If global warming were the cause of the increase in United States hurricane landfalls in 2004 and the overall increase in Atlantic basin major hurricane activity of the past ten years (1995-2004), one would expect to see an increase in tropical cyclone activity in the other storm basins as well (i.e., West Pacific, East Pacific, Indian Ocean, etc.)," the report said. "This has not occurred.
"When tropical cyclones worldwide are summed, there has actually been a slight decrease since 1995."