AccuWeather.com Hurricane Center meteorologists are calling for a much more active 2010 season with above-normal threats on the U.S. coastline. AccuWeather is forecasting 16 to 18 tropical storms in total 15 of which would be in the western Atlantic or Gulf of Mexico, and therefore a threat to land. Of the seven predicted landfalls five will be hurricanes, and two or three of the hurricanes will be major landfalls for the U.S.
In an average year, 11 systems develop into named storms with winds of at least 39 mph, with six of them reaching the 74-mph threshold for hurricanes and two growing into major storms with winds of 111 mph or more, according to the National Hurricane Center. The 1950 to 2009 average is 10 storms, six hurricanes and three major systems.
Last year, the number of storms was held to a 12-year low as only nine formed and none made landfall at hurricane strength in the U.S. An El Nino, or warming in the Pacific Ocean, is credited in part with keeping the number lower than average.
There are a number of physical drivers which are a concern for this upcoming hurricane season. These include:
- The rapidly weakening El Niño.
- Warmer ocean temperatures in the typical Atlantic tropical breeding grounds compared to last year (tropical storms draw energy from warm water).
- Weakening trade winds which reduce the amount of dry air injected into the tropics from Africa.
- Higher humidity levels which provide additional upward motion in the air and fuel tropical storm development.
The 2010 hurricane forecast brings to mind the 2005 hurricane season, where 28 storms formed that killed 4000 people and caused $130 billion in damages.
The recovery process has not yet started for the Gulf of Mexico oil spill, as British Petroleum (BP) are still struggling to seal off the well. Once the well is sealed off, they will begin the clean-up process which will take long time. With the 2010 hurricane season predictions looming over the Gulf, it is not good news for BP, The White House, and the Gulf Coast region of the United States.