Katrina approaching New Orleans August 2005

Colorado State University meteorologists have predicted that the 2011 Atlantic hurricane season will be nearly as busy as the one that just ended. The forecasting team anticipates:

  • 17 tropical storms
  • 9 of those strengthening into hurricanes
  • 5 will grow into “major” hurricanes of category 3 or higher on the five-step Saffir-Simpson scale of hurricane intensity, with sustained winds of at least 111 mph (178 km per hour)

This compares with 19 tropical storms, 12 hurricanes and five major hurricanes during the 2010 season that just ended on November 30. The 2010 season tied with 1887 and 1995 for the third-highest storm total on record.

What is an “average season? 11 storms, six hurricanes and two major hurricanes in the Atlantic, Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico.

Why is causing this trending?  Forecasters note that sea surface temperatures in the North Atlantic were still at record warm levels, indicating the region is still in a multi-decade period of high activity for hurricanes.  The researchers also went on to say that it seemed unlikely that El Nino would develop.