Thursday, November 20, 2008

William Gray's hurricane prediction team nearly on target

News Press (Fort Myers, Florida): A well-known hurricane prediction team at Colorado State University just about hit the mark this year. On April 8 and on June 3, the team of Phil Klotzbach and Dr. William Gray called for 15 named storms, eight hurricanes and four major hurricanes — Category 3 or higher (winds of at least 111 mph).

The team upgraded their prediction to 17 named storms, nine hurricanes and five major hurricanes on Aug. 5. What wound up happening: 16 named storms, eight hurricanes and 5 intense hurricanes.

“We consider our April and June forecasts to have been especially successful,” Klotzbach said in a prepared statement. “We believed that given the extremely active early season and the climate parameters observed up to August that the remainder of the season was likely to be slightly more active than it was.” The rest of the season had activity at above average levels, Klotzbach added, with both Gustav and Ike devastating coastal areas in the United States and in the Caribbean.

The team bases its annual forecasts on 60 years of data that includes Atlantic sea surface temperatures and sea level pressures, the change in wind direction with height and El Nino. The hurricane season was very active from a U.S. landfall perspective, the team said, with three tropical storms and three Category 2 hurricanes making U.S. landfall this year: Hurricane Dolly, Tropical Storm Edouard, Tropical Storm Fay, Hurricane Gustav, Tropical Storm Hanna and Hurricane Ike….

Hurricane Gustav hits the beach September 1, 2008, in Bay St. Louis, Mississippi. Shot by au_tiger01, Wikimedia Commons via Flickr, under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 License

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