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AccuWeather Cuts Hurricane Forecast to Six Storms

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Posted on 15 May 2009 said on Thursday that the 2009 Atlantic storm season will produce six hurricanes, down from an earlier prediction of eight, and 10 named storms rather than 13.

Cooler water temperatures in the Atlantic, a weak El Nino system in the Pacific and stronger winds across Africa will all combine for a less-severe hurricane season, AccuWeather’s Joe Bastardi said in an e-mailed statement. The season runs from June 1 to Nov. 30.

“As we predicted in our early season forecast, we’re anticipating a major reduction in the number of overall storms compared to last year,” said Bastardi, the private forecaster’s chief long-range and hurricane forecaster.

In March, AccuWeather, based in State College, Pennsylvania, predicted the season would produce eight hurricanes. AccuWeather now expects six of those storms will develop into hurricanes, two becoming major cyclones with winds of at least 111 miles (178 kilometers) per hour.

AccuWeather decreased the number of storms it expects to hit the U.S. coast three from four, with two of those being hurricanes and perhaps one being major.

Different Storm Path

Bastardi said he foresees a weather pattern producing storms that could travel through a much wider area of the Atlantic. Last year, many storms followed paths clustered around the Bahamas, he said.

“This year, we have the opposite of that classic development,” Bastardi said. “Anywhere along the U.S. coast is susceptible to an impact, but the Texas coast early in the season, and the East Coast from Carolinas northward during the heart of the season, are areas that have us worried.”

The Gulf of Mexico is home to about 26 percent of U.S. oil production.

In May 2008, AccuWeather predicted 12 named storms would form during that season. There were actually 16 named storms, and it was the sixth-most-active season, according to information compiled by Weather Underground Inc. of Ann Arbor, Michigan. The most-active season was 2005, when 28 named storms formed and Hurricanes Katrina and Rita devastated the Gulf Coast.

In April, Colorado State University predicted 12 named storms would form this year, with six developing into hurricanes. Private forecaster Weatherbug, in Germantown, Maryland, called for 11 to 13 storms. An average hurricane season has 11 named storms, six hurricanes and two major hurricanes, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.


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