NU Online News Service, Dec. 8, 12:16 p.m. EST

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Forecasters are predicting another busy hurricane season nextyear after coming off a very busy 2010 season that Colorado StateUniversity forecasters accurately predicted.

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The team of Philip Klotzbach and William Gray at Colorado StateUniversity's (CSU) Tropical Meteorology Project are projecting 17 namedstorms, including nine hurricanes and five major hurricanes ofCategory 3 or higher on the Saffir-Simpson scale (sustained windsof 111 mph or higher) for next year.

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The team said the numbers are close to what was experiencedduring the 2010 season in the Atlantic basin. The hurricane seasonruns from June 1 through Nov. 30.

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This past season the team predicted a well above-averagehurricane season. In June, at the start of the season, the teamcalled for 18 named storms, 10 hurricanes and five majorhurricanes. There were 19 named storms, 12 hurricanes and fivemajor hurricanes.

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"The U.S. was extremely lucky in 2010 in that none of the 12Atlantic basin hurricanes that formed crossed the U.S. coastline,"Mr. Klotzbach said in a statement. "On average, about one in fourAtlantic basin hurricanes makes U.S. landfall, and therefore, wewould expect to see more land falling hurricanes in 2011."

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While noting the uncertainty in the forecast six months ahead ofthe season, Mr. Klotzbach said that current upper ocean heatanomalies in the tropical Pacific mean an El Nino is unlikely,leading to a more active hurricane season in 2011.

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An El Nino produces wind and atmospheric conditions that are notconducive to the development of hurricanes.

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"This forecast is based on an extended-range early Decemberstatistical prediction scheme we've developed based on 58 years ofdata," Mr. Gray said. "At this point, we are uncertain whether LaNina conditions or neutral conditions are more likely for the 2011hurricane season. Sea surface temperatures in the far NorthAtlantic remain at record warm levels, which is an indication thatwe are in an active multidecadal period for Atlantic hurricaneactivity."

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For the 2011 Atlantic basin hurricane season, the CSU hurricaneforecast team predicts:

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o A 73 percent chance that at least one major hurricane willmake landfall on the U.S. coastline in 2011. The long-term averageprobability is 52 percent.

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o For the U.S. East Coast, including the Florida Peninsula, theprobability of a major hurricane making landfall is 49 percent (thelong-term average is 31 percent).

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o For the Gulf Coast from the Florida Panhandle west toBrownsville, the probability is 48 percent (the long-term averageis 30 percent).

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o The team predicts the probability of a major hurricane makinglandfall in the Caribbean as 62 percent (average for the lastcentury is 42 percent).

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The team has also updated the Landfall Probability website that provides probabilities of tropicalstorm-force, hurricane-force and major hurricane-force winds makinglandfall at specific locations along the U.S. East and Gulf coastswithin a variety of time periods.

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The team said it will issue seasonal updates of its 2011Atlantic basin hurricane activity forecast on April 6, June 1 andAug. 3.

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The lack of hurricanes making U.S. landfall this year was seenas a benefit for insurers, but catastrophes in other parts of theworld in 2010 were in line with average natural losses for theyear.

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