The Tropical Meteorology Project at Colorado State University is predicting another busy hurricane season in the Atlantic next year.
The forecast team of Phil Klotzbach and William Gray said this week that the multidecadal active cycle at work in the Atlantic since 1995 remains in place. And they see a small likelihood that El Nino conditions will arise in the Pacific to stifle storm development in the Atlantic.
Their "extended range" forecast calls for 17 named storms in the 2011 season, of which 9 will become hurricanes, and five will reach "major" hurricane strength at 111 mph (Cat. 3) or higher.
And while no 2010 hurricanes crossed the U.S. coastline, the CSU team said, "We would expect to see more landfalling hurricanes in 2010." The average is 1 in 4 Atlantic hurricanes making a landfall in the U.S.
Last year's extended range forecast from CSU correctly predicted an above-average season. But the team underestimated the totals: They called for 11-16 named storms, 6-8 hurricanes and 3 to 5 major storms. The actual count was 19 named storms and 12 hurricanes, five of them reaching Cat. 3.
They also set a 64 percent chance that at least one major hurricane would make landfall in the U.S. None did.
(GRAPHIC: Wind field for Hurricane Igor; red indicates hurricane force; tan is tropical storm force; NOAA/NHC)