On the first day of the Atlantic hurricane season, forecasters at Colorado State University have increased their predictions for the number of named storms for the year but are still predicting a below-average number of storms.
Philip Klotzbach and William Gray of Colorado State University's Department of Atmospheric Science are predicting 13 named tropical storms for the season, an increase of three from their forecast released in April. They say five of those storms will be hurricanes (with maximum sustained winds of 74 mph or above), an increase from four hurricanes in their April forecast.
The forecast for a major hurricane, a Category 3, 4 or 5 storm with winds well above 100 mph, remains at two.
The probability of one major hurricane hitting any part of the U.S. coastline is 48%, they said. The average for the past century has been 52%.
The CSU forecasters note that the two May tropical storms we've seen this year, Alberto and Beryl, are included among the 13 predicted for the season. They said the fact that 2012 has seen two storms doesn't portend anything for the rest of the year.
"Pre-1 June activity has very little bearing on the rest of the hurricane season. The only two seasons on record with two named storms prior to 1 June were 1887 and 1908. While 1887 was a very active season, 1908 had average levels of activity. The last season with a U.S. landfall prior to 1 June was 1976, which was a relatively quiet season," the forecasters said.
On May 24, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announced that it expected a near-normal Atlantic hurricane season, with nine to 15 named storms and four to eight hurricanes. NOAA expects one to three of the hurricanes to be major ones.