U.K. forecasters release first-ever hurricane season predictions

Published 4:25 pm Thursday, June 21, 2007

British government forecasters are predicting that the Atlantic hurricane season may not be as busy as their American counterparts expect.

It is most likely that 10 more tropical storms will form from July to November, the British forecasters said Tuesday. An expected cooling trend in Atlantic Ocean surface waters favors fewer tropical storms than in recent years, the British meteorologists said in their first-ever hurricane season forecast.

The British scientists did not predict a number of hurricanes that would form or how many would become strong, as American forecasters do. There is a 70 percent chance that the number of storms will be in the range of seven to 13, according to the British.

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In May, U.S. government forecasters predicted 13 to 17 tropical storms in the season that runs from June 1 to Nov. 30. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration scientists said they expect seven to 10 tropical storms to become hurricanes and three to five of them in the strong category.

Colorado State University researcher William Gray also predicted double-digit tropical storm numbers. Gray predicted 17 named storms and nine hurricanes, five of them intense.

Matt Huddleston at the U.K.’s Met Office, a weather tracking agency within the British Ministry of Defense, said its numbers are based on a “brand new forecasting system” using a global climate model.

Huddleston said his office’s prediction is based on a so-called “dynamical” model, more like what is used for daily weather forecasts. American forecasters do not currently use that model for seasonal predictions.

“Our method is very different in the sense it uses models of the climate that include all the laws of physics and supercomputers together to predict what’s going to be happening over the coming season,” Huddleston said.

The Met Office ran but did not make public their model in the 2005 and 2006 seasons. They correctly predicted the change from the active 2005 season to the below-normal 2006 season, the Met Office said.

The Atlantic season has already had two named storms, Andrea and Barry.

The U.S. government and Gray will update their seasonal predictions in August.