Forecasters Think At Least 2 Major Hurricanes Could Form Before Season’s End

Forecasters at Colorado State University and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration think at least two major hurricanes with winds exceeding 110 mph (about 177 kph) will form in the Atlantic Basin — which includes the Caribbean Sea, the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean — before the 2012 hurricane season ends.

The updated CSU forecast, prepared by Phil Klotzbach and William Gray and released August 3, said 10 named tropical storms will form between now and the end of the hurricane season on November 30. The total number of storms for the 2012 season will reach 14, they said.

Klotzbach and Gray said six of those storms will become hurricanes with winds of at least 74 mph (about 119 kph), and two of those hurricanes will become major storms.

NOAA’s updated forecast, released this morning, said 12 to 17 named storms will form during the 2012 season, with five to eight of those storms becoming hurricanes and two to three hurricanes intensifying into major storms. Unlike the CSU forecast, however, NOAA’s forecast did not include predictions for the remaining four months of the hurricane season.

Tropical storms are more likely to form in August, September and October than at other times of the hurricane season.

Klotzbach and Gray said the likelihood of a major hurricane striking the U.S. coast is a little lower this year than it’s been during the past century. The CSU forecasters think there’s about a 48 percent chance that a major hurricane will make landfall somewhere on the U.S. Atlantic or Gulf coasts. The average likelihood during the past 100 years has been about 52 percent, they said.

Five tropical storms with winds of at least 39 mph (about 63 kph) have formed this year, and two of those storms have become hurricanes. But neither hurricane intensified into a major hurricane.

The entire updated CSU forecast can be viewed online here, while the NOAA forecast is here.

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Willie Drye is an award-winning author and a contributing editor for National Geographic News. He and his wife live in Wilmington, North Carolina.