Aug. 6, 2003 – Although the 2003 hurricane season got off to a strong start with four named storms and two hurricanes forming in the Atlantic before the end of July, Colorado State University hurricane forecaster William Gray said on Wednesday that he doesn't think this pattern will continue.
Instead of an above-average season, he's now saying that August and September will see lower-than-average storm activity and October will be a bit more active than normal. This represents a change from his May 30 prediction.
He said atmospheric changes from June to July that altered global circulation patterns caused him to revise his opinion.
An average year sees 9.6 named storms, 5.9 hurricanes and 2.3 intense hurricanes with winds over 111 mph.
Harold Baker, who heads V.I. Territorial Emergency Management Agency operations, reiterated Wednesday what he's said since hurricane season began June 1.
"Remain prepared physically, mentally and otherwise," he said.
This means having your emergency supplies, including canned goods, flashlights, batteries, and radios on hand, having an emergency plan for your family, and keeping a watch on the weather.
"Remain in a preparation mode," he said.
This is the second year that Gray and his team have made monthly predictions for August, September and October.
For August, Gray and his team forecast three named storms, one hurricane and one intense hurricane. For September, the team predicts four named storms, two hurricanes and one intense hurricane. In October, he and his team predict three named storms, two hurricane and no intense hurricanes.
Gray still thinks a total of 14 names storms will form, the same as he forecast in May. He continues to predict eight will become hurricanes and three develop into intense storms. However, four storms have already passed.
In this latest prediction, the team slightly reduced its assessment of hurricane landfall probability, but it remains above average.
"This is better news for coastal residents. However, this does not mean that there will not be significant United States and Caribbean hurricane-spawned destruction," Gray said in a news release.
Gray does not attach probability numbers to the chance of a hurricane hitting a Caribbean island, but said that there is a 64 percent chance of a hurricane hitting somewhere along the U.S. coast.
The seasons from 1995 — the year Hurricane Marilyn devastated the territory — through 2002 comprised the most active eight consecutive hurricane years on record. Gray said that he believes the Atlantic basic has entered a new multi-decadal cycle of increased hurricane activity and landfall similar to that experience in the 1940s and 1950s.
Baker said that VITEMA will send out updates should a storm threaten.
Hurricane season continuess through Nov. 30.
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