On the heels of one of the most deadly hurricane seasons in memory, a top forecaster is calling for another busy year in the Atlantic basin for 2005.
"We foresee a slightly above-average hurricane season for the Atlantic basin in 2005," Colorado State University forecaster William Gray said Friday. "Also, an above-average probability of U.S. major hurricane landfall is anticipated. We do not, however, expect anything close to the U.S. landfalling hurricane activity of 2004."
Gray and his colleagues predict 11 named tropical storms for the Atlantic Basin, which includes the Gulf of Mexico, in 2005. Of those, they expect six to become hurricanes, and three of those to become major hurricanes with sustained winds of 111 mph or stronger.
The odds of at least one major storm hitting the U.S. coast is 69 percent, he said.
This year's hurricane season, when ended Nov. 30, saw a whopping 15 named storms, nine hurricanes, and six major hurricanes.
Gray has for 22 years been making long-range hurricane predictions, based on such factors as multi-year trends, current sea surface temperatures in the tropics, and factors seemingly far away like rainfall in Africa and the El Nino cycle in the Pacific. The forecast will be revised periodically up to and even into next season.
The Atlantic Basin season next year begins, as always, on June 1.