N.C. State University researchers predict normal hurricane season

Posted April 9, 2009 11:18 a.m. EDT
Updated April 12, 2009 6:57 p.m. EDT

— Researchers at North Carolina State University said Thursday that 2009 should be a "near-normal" hurricane season.

Storm activity in the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico will be slightly above the averages of past 50 years but in line with those from the past 20 years, said Lian Xie, a professor of marine, earth and atmospheric sciences.

Xie, statistics professor Montserrat Fuentes and graduate student Danny Modlin have forecast 11 to 14 named storms forming in the Atlantic basin, which includes the entire Atlantic Ocean, the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea. Six to eight of those named storms might grow strong enough to become hurricanes, they said, and there is a 45 percent chance that one of those storms will make landfall along the coast of the southeastern United States as a hurricane.

Xie's data indicate the likelihood of three to five named storms forming in the Gulf of Mexico, of which one to three will become hurricanes. The researchers expect two to four named storms to make landfall along the Gulf Coast or Mexico, and there is a 70 percent chance that at least one of those storms will be of hurricane status.

"The data show that the number of storms this year will not vary significantly from those of the past 20 years. In fact, 2009's numbers are slightly lower than last year's prediction of 13 to 15 named storms," Xie said in a statement.

His methodology evaluates data from the last 100 years on Atlantic Ocean hurricane positions and intensity, as well as other variables like weather patterns and sea-surface temperatures.

The Atlantic hurricane season runs from June 1 through Nov. 30.