From the June 2011 issue of Claims Magazine •Subscribe!

2011 Tropical Storm Season Busy, But Slower Than 2010

Another weather forecasting team is predicting an active hurricane season for 2011, calling for an above-average number of storms to form in the Atlantic Hurricane Basin.

Earth Networks’ WeatherBug meteorology team foresees a lower number of expected hurricanes in comparison to 2010, but its numbers are still trending above what is considered to be a normal tropical storm season.

Specifically, Earth Networks expects a total of 13-14 named storms to form, with 7-8 becoming hurricanes. Of those, it expects four will become strong enough to be classified at “intense” storms—Category 3 or higher on the Saffir-Simpson scale.

An average tropical storm season is 10 named storms, six hurricanes, and 3 intense hurricanes. “While water temperatures in the Atlantic Ocean are warmer than average in key tropical cyclone development areas, they are not as warm as last year,” says Earth Networks Chief Meteorologist Mark Hoekzema. “La Niña conditions, which usually favor the formation of tropical storms, are forecasted to weaken throughout the summer. Neutral conditions are expected during the prime hurricane months from August through October.”

The above-average forecast stems partly from the fact that recent historical patterns show a string of 12 active hurricane seasons. Additionally, previous years with similar climate conditions have been more active than average, the company says. It said similarities to this year’s predicted weather to 2008 and 1996 point toward an increased potential for a land-falling hurricane to impact the U.S. this year.

So far this year, other forecasters have offered up similar predictions. The Colorado State University forecasters’ estimate released on April 6 calls for 16 named storms, nine hurricanes, and five intense hurricanes. Weather Services International’s (WSI) tropical storm forecast released on April 27 predicts 15 named storms, eight hurricanes, and four intense hurricanes.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) will release its figures this week, May 19, at a press conference at the NOAA Satellite Operations Facility—the epicenter of all satellite data used in developing weather and climate forecasts, including hurricanes.

As has been the case in recent past, an above-average forecast does not necessarily mean there is a greater likelihood of a hurricane landfall in the U.S. Last year’s hurricane season was much above normal, but no hurricanes made landfall in the U.S.

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