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AccuWeather predicts another active hurricane season for U.S. shores

By Scott Dance, The Baltimore Sun

12:10 PM EDT, May 15, 2013

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AccuWeather.com is predicting another active Atlantic hurricane season, particularly for the U.S. coastline.

While the Pennsylvania-based meteorology company is calling for fewer storms in all, with 16 tropical storms versus 19 in 2012, AccuWeather's season outlook suggests four storms could become major hurricanes, compared with one in 2012.

AccuWeather expects three storms to make landfall in the U.S., compared with four in 2012.

"After a devastating blow to the East from Superstorm Sandy in October of 2012, residents and homeowners on the Atlantic coast should anticipate another active season in 2013," the forecast warns.

Warm water in the Atlantic combined with less frequent wind shear could make storms more frequent, the forecasters suggest. Warm water helps storms strengthen, while strong wind shear, when there are significant differences between wind speeds at varying altitudes, can inhibit storm development. There also may be less influence from Saharan dust, which can also stymy storm development.

AccuWeather does not expect a repeat to last year's early hurricane season start. In 2012, two named storms formed before the official hurricane season start June 1. If that happens again, AccuWeather says it would increase its storm tally predictions.

Normal numbers for an Atlantic hurricane season are lower than AccuWeather's forecasts and than 2012's totals. An average year sees 12 tropical storms, 6 hurricanes, 3 major hurricanes and 2 storms that make landfall in the U.S.

Five out of the past seven seasons since the record-setting 2005 season have been more active than normal. There have been 19 named storms each of the past three years. There were 28 storms in 2005, the year of Hurricane Katrina and the most active season on record for the Atlantic.

An earlier forecast released last month by forecasters at Colorado State University similarly called for an above-average Atlantic hurricane season.

The U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration will release its season outlook May 23.

As the hurricane season approaches, NOAA is meanwhile reviewing what improvements can be made in light of Hurricane Sandy's damage along the Northeast U.S. coast. NOAA released a final report Wednesday on the National Weather Service's performance during the storm.

The report found that emergency officials and coastal residents could have used more clear and user-friendly storm surge forecasts, for one. Another of the report's recommendations has already been put in place -- allowing the weather service to maintain hurricane or tropical storm warnings even if a storm is not expected to sustain "tropical" characteristics by landfall, something found to have caused confusion with Sandy.