In its first tropical forecast for 2011, WSI (Weather Services International) is predicting 17 named storms, 9 hurricanes and 5 intense hurricanes (category 3 or greater). The 2011 forecast numbers are well above the long-term (1950-2009) averages of 10 named storms, 6 hurricanes, and 2 intense hurricanes and also slightly above the averages from the more active recent period (1995-2010) of 15/8/4.
"We expect another very active season in 2011, with above-normal Atlantic ocean temperatures and favorable wind shear conditions. Typically, years after La Nina events are quite active, especially if the La Nina doesn't rapidly transition to an El Nino event," said WSI Chief Meteorologist Dr. Todd Crawford. "Most of the statistical and dynamical guidance suggests that the chance of this occurring is relatively low."
Crawford also indicated that the Gulf Coast was under a significant threat for hurricane landfall in the upcoming season. "Our hurricane landfall prediction model suggests increased chances of US landfall in 2011, with particularly enhanced probabilities in the western Gulf states. The forecast numbers are quite similar to those prior to the 2008 season, when Hurricanes Dolly, Gustav, and Ike impacted Louisiana and Texas."
The next seasonal forecast update, which will include forecasts for late winter and early spring temperatures,will be issued on January 25. The next update for the 2011 tropical season will be released on April 27.