Top storm predictor expects season to be average: 6 hurricanes, 2 severe

August 26, 1998|By Frank D. Roylance | Frank D. Roylance,SUN STAFF

William Gray, a professor of atmospheric sciences at Colorado State University and one of the nation's most respected hurricane experts, has predicted that six hurricanes will develop in the Atlantic this season.

Of those, he said, two will be "severe" storms, with sustained winds above 111 mph.

That is close to the long-term average for the Atlantic basin: 5.8 hurricanes, of which 2.2 qualify as "intense."

On Aug. 7, Gray also said, based on his statistical models, that there was a 66 percent chance that one intense hurricane would strike the U.S. Atlantic or Gulf coast between August and November.

Gray's annual predictions have produced accurate or "near-accurate" results in 10 of the past 14 years.

They are based on a "mixed bag" of data, including the rapid development of La Nina conditions in the eastern tropical Pacific and recent rainfall in the Sahel region of northwest Africa, both of which correlate with a more active Atlantic hurricane season.

Pub Date: 8/26/98

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