Active hurricane season looms for U.S. coastline


National Report - There is a 74 percent chance a major hurricane will make landfall on the U.S. coastline this season, Colorado State University (CSU) forecasters predict.

NATIONAL REPORT — There is a 74 percent chance a major hurricane will make landfall on the U.S. coastline this season, Colorado State University (CSU) forecasters predict.

The American Veterinary Medical Association remains on high alert and works with national, state and local disaster-response organizations to ensure a minimum impact to animal health, says Lynne White, DVM and assistant director of scientific activities.

AVMA's disaster Web site offers guidelines for protecting families, along with an interactive map of the United States that tracks each state's disaster-preparedness plans and area resources.

CSU's hurricane forecast team is calling for 17 storms in the Atlantic basin between June and the end of November. Nine are expected to become hurricanes.

The forecast team gave these probabilities of a major hurricane making landfall on U.S. soil:

  • A 74 percent chance that at least one major hurricane will hit somewhere on the U.S. coastline in 2007 (the long-term average probability is 52 percent).

  • A 50 percent chance that a major hurricane will strike the East Coast, including the Florida peninsula (the long-term average is 31 percent).

  • A 49 percent chance that a major hurricane will make landfall on the Gulf Coast from the Florida panhandle west to Brownsville, Texas. (The long-term average is 30 percent.)

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

"We are in a new era for storms that is part of a natural cycle," says William Gray, a CSU professor who began forecasting hurricane seasons 24 years ago. "We've had an upturn of major storms in the Atlantic since 1995. This active cycle is expected to continue for another decade or two, at which time we should enter a quieter Atlantic major-hurricane period like we experienced during the quarter-century periods of 1970-1994 and 1901-1925. These changes in storm activity are not caused by human-induced global warming but by natural forces."

The team has said the seasons of 2004 and 2005 were anomalies: Florida and the Gulf Coast were ravaged by four hurricanes each year. Hurricanes Charley, Frances, Ivan and Jeanne caused severe damage in 2004, followed by Dennis, Katrina, Rita and Wilma in 2005.

Probabilities of tropical storm-force, hurricane-force and intense hurricane-force winds occurring at specific locations along the coasts within a variety of time periods are listed on the CSU forecast team's Landfall Probability Web site. The site provides landfall probabilities for 11 regions, 55 sub-regions and 205 individual counties from Brownsville, Texas, to Eastport, Maine. The Web site,, adjusts landfall probabilities for regions, sub-regions and counties based on the current climate and its projected effects on the upcoming season.

The site is updated regularly with assistance from the GeoGraphics Laboratory at Bridgewater State College in Massachusetts.

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