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CSU team predicts active 2007 hurricane season


FORT COLLINS, Colo.--The follow-up to this year's relatively mild hurricane season will be an active 2007 season, with 14 named storms expected to form, the forecasting team from the Colorado State University Tropical Meteorology Project said Friday.

"We believe 2007 will be an active season in the Atlantic basin," the team, long headed by William Gray, professor emeritus of atmospheric science at CSU in Fort Collins, Colo., said in a report.

The team predicted "above-average probability of United States major hurricane landfall," with the likelihood of a major hurricane hitting the U.S. coastline set at 64%, compared with an average for the last century of 52%.

Of the 14 named storms, the team said it anticipates seven will strengthen into hurricanes, three of which could become "intense hurricanes"--classified as Category 3, 4 or 5 storms on the Saffir-Simpson scale.

The forecasters noted in their report that "we should not read too much into the two hurricane seasons of 2004-2005," which were unusually active and resulted in several major hurricanes causing billions of dollars in insured property damage. "The activity of these two years was unusual but well within natural bounds of hurricane variation," they said.

Additionally, the team noted in the report that the large upswing of U.S. hurricane landfalls in 2004 and 2005 was not directly related to global warming, in their view, but rather that "changes in ocean salinity are believed to be the driving mechanism."

"We have no plausible physical reasons for believing that Atlantic hurricane frequency or intensity will change significantly if global ocean temperatures continue to rise," the researchers wrote.

Hurricane season runs from June 1 through Nov. 30.

The team plans to issue the next update of their 2007 Atlantic basin hurricane forecasts in April 2007.

Earlier this week, London-based forecaster Tropical Storm Risk released its long-range forecast for 2007, also predicting an above-average number of hurricanes that will make landfall in the United States.