Another forecaster predicts an active hurricane season

The News and Observer of Raleigh reported yesterday that Lian Xie, a professor of marine, earth and atmospheric sciences at North Carolina State University, is predicting that the 2010 hurricane season will be "unusually active."

Xie (whose last name is pronounced "Shear") forecasts that 15 to 18 named tropical storms will form in the Atlantic Basin between June 1 and November 30. Of those storms, nine to 11 will strengthen into hurricanes with winds of at least 74 mph.

During the past 50 years, an average of about 10 named tropical storms have formed each summer.

Xie and his team of researchers also predict a high likelihood that a hurricane will make landfall somewhere along the southeastern coast of the U.S. The NC State team said the chances are seven in 10 that a hurricane will strike there.

The forecasters also said that there's a better-than-even chance that a major hurricane with winds exceeding 110 mph will make landfall somewhere on the Gulf Coast.

Xie and his researchers based their forecast on 100 years of hurricane data as well as weather patterns and the temperature of water at the surface of the Atlantic Ocean. Hurricanes draw their strength from warm water, and temperatures in the Atlantic Basin -- which includes the Caribbean Sea and Gulf of Mexico -- are warmer than usual.

Xie's researchers included NC State professor of statistics Montserrat Fuentes and graduate student Danny Modlin.

The NC State forecast is the second prediction this year for an active hurricane season. Earlier this month, forecasters at Colorado State University predicted that 15 named storms will form this year, with eight of those storms strengthening into hurricanes.

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