Anomalously warm tropical sea surface temperatures in the Atlantic portend an active hurricane season according to forecasters at Colorado State University.

The CSU team predicts an above-average 2010 Atlantic season with 15 named storms expected to form in the Atlantic basin between June 1 and Nov. 30, with eight expected to be hurricanes and four developing into major hurricanes (Saffir/Simpson category 3-4-5) with sustained winds of 111 mph or greater. On average, they are 9.6 named storms, 5.9 hurricanes and 2.3 major hurricanes per year.

“We expect current moderate El Nino conditions to transition to neutral conditions by this year’s hurricane season,” Phil Klotzbach, lead forecaster on the CSU Hurricane Forecast Team said in a statement. “The dissipating El Nino, along with the expected anomalously warm Atlantic ocean sea surface temperatures, will lead to favorable dynamic and thermodynamic conditions for hurricane formation and intensification.”

The hurricane team's forecasts are based on statistical model in developed 2008 which uses global oceanic and atmospheric conditions, such as El Nino, sea surface temperatures and sea level pressures, to predict storm activity.

“Based on our latest forecast, the probability of a major hurricane making landfall along the U.S. coastline is 69% compared with the last-century average of 52%,” added William Gray. “While patterns may change before the start of hurricane season, we believe current conditions warrant concern for an above-average season.”

The team predicts tropical cyclone activity in 2010 will be 160 % of the average season, opposed to 70 % seen in 2009.

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