Residents of the Gulf Coast and Eastern Seaboard should batten down the hatches this coming summer, as researchers are forecasting another whopper of a hurricane season. William Gray and Phillip Klotzbach, atmospheric scientists at Colorado State University, are predicting that 17 named storms, including as many as five major hurricanes, may well land on Florida and the Gulf Coast between late June and November.
A year ago, the duo’s prediction of 13 named storms and three major hurricanes fell well short of the record storm season that yielded 27 storms and nine major hurricanes. The most severe storm, Hurricane Katrina, killed 1,200 people and caused upwards of $75 billion in property damage.
The researchers’ primary fodder for speculation entails measuring springtime ocean temperatures in the Atlantic. Klotzbach told reporters that while the Atlantic Ocean is warmer this year than normal, it is not as hot as last year at this time. The duo’s next forecast update, due in May, will spell out which parts of the Atlantic coast should be most vulnerable to big hurricanes coming ashore. Meanwhile, Accuweather.com and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration are slated to provide their own hurricane forecast next month as well.