As we move closer to the start of the 2010 hurricane season for the Atlantic Basin (i.e., Atlantic Ocean, Caribbean Sea and Gulf of Mexico), expert predictors are getting ready to broadcast their long-range forecasts.
One of the most eagerly anticipated forecasts comes each year on April 7 from the notable Dr. William Gray of Colorado State University's Tropical Meteorology Project, as well as the official prediction from NOAA and the National Hurricane Center (NHC) in May. Both of these outlets adjust their predictions as the season nears and progresses.
Today, however, AccuWeather's chief long-range meteorologist and expert hurricane forecaster, Joe Bastardi, who I hope to interview someday soon, issued his official forecast for the 2010 season. Bastardi says, "This year has the chance to be an extreme season!"
Bastardi is calling for 16 to 18 tropical storms in total, 15 of which would be in the western Atlantic or Gulf of Mexico and therefore a threat to land. He is forecasting seven landfalls. Five will be hurricanes and two or three of the hurricanes will be major landfalls for the United States.
Why the increased activity? As the June 1 - November 30 hurricane season approaches, a rapidly weakening El Niño, weakening trade winds which reduce the amount of dry air injected into the tropics from Africa, warmer ocean temperatures in the typical Atlantic tropical breeding grounds, and higher humidity levels which provides additional upward motion in the air and fuels tropical storm development, all will be significant factors for tropical cyclone development.
Stay tuned for Dr. Gray's prediction next month and the NOAA/NHC prediction in May. This could certainly be an interesting hurricane season. And don't forget, this season will feature a brand new Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale!