Batten Down The Hatches: Experts Warn Of Extreme Hurricane Season

A "well above average" hurricane season has been predicted for the Atlantic Ocean by weather experts at Colorado State University April 9. Big oil operators and owners are making sure company safety procedures and evacuation plans are in place to protect offshore assets.

The forecast was delivered from the Bahamas Weather Conference by 25-year hurricane forecast veteran William Gray.

"Current oceanic and atmospheric trends indicate that we will likely have an active Atlantic basin hurricane season," said William Gray.

Fifteen named storms are expected to originate in the Atlantic basin between June 1 and Nov. 30. The CSU team predicts that eight will become hurricanes, four of which will develop into "intense or major hurricanes with sustained winds of 111 or greater."

"Based on our latest forecast, the probability of a major hurricane making landfall along the U.S. coastline is 69% compared with the last-century average of 52%," said Phil Klotzbach of the Colorado State hurricane forecast team. "We are calling for a very active hurricane season this year, but not as active as the 2004 and 2005 seasons."

In a press release issued by the university, the forecasting team stated that the hurricane forecast team predicts tropical cyclone activity in 2008 will be 160 percent of the average season. By comparison, 2005 witnessed tropical cyclone activity that was about 275 percent of the average season.

Within these parameters, the CSU forecasters predict a 45% chance that a major hurricane will make landfall on the U.S. East Coast, including the Florida Peninsula (the long-term average is 31%); and a 44% chance that a major hurricane will make landfall on the Gulf Coast from the Florida Panhandle west to Brownsville (the long-term average is 30%).

The team also predicted above-average major hurricane landfall risk in the Caribbean.

Despite the threat of an above-average hurricane season, offshore operators and owners contacted by Rigzone said safety procedures and evacuation plans are in place to ensure the safety of personnel, equipment and production.

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