Oct. 1, 2004 William Gray and his colleague Philip Klotzbach at Colorado State University indicated Friday that the worst of hurricane season is behind us.
Gray and his team make predictions throughout the year on how many storms they expect to form during hurricane season.
They think October will see three named storms. They expect two to become hurricanes, but none will be intense with winds over 111 mph. He said this is slightly higher than average for October.
Gray and Klotzbach expect little activity in November.
Gray has also reduced his seasonal forecast to 15 named storms from the 16 predicted in early September. He thinks nine will become hurricanes, up from eight in the September prediction. Gray expects six to become intense hurricanes, an increase of one over the September prediction.
The long-term average stands at 9.6 named storms, 5.9 hurricanes and 2.3 intense hurricanes per year.
So far this hurricane season, 12 named storms developed, with seven becoming hurricanes. Six of those seven reached intense category.
"This has been a once-in-a-lifetime kind of year," Gray said.
He said that this year has already seen 220 percent of the activity of a normal year.
"We have studied more than 100 years of storm data, and this year did not behave like any other year we have studied," Gray said.
The Virgin Islands was brushed with Hurricane Frances and Tropical Storm Jeanne. Tropical Storm Jeanne caused flooding and widespread power outages, with St. Croix seeing more problems than St. Thomas and St. John.
Although numerous Caribbean islands suffered varying degrees of damage from this year's string of hurricanes, Florida has taken the brunt of this season. Florida was hit with three intense hurricanes, one lesser hurricane and a tropical storm. Gray said this broke records kept for 130 years.
"Although Floridians should always be prepared for landfalling hurricanes, they should not expect what we have experienced this year to become the norm for future years," Gray said.
He said the high number of storms that formed this season coupled with very favorable steering conditions that drove storms from the deep tropics across Florida created the problem.
Gray said four factors came together in the tropical central Atlantic that made both August and September so active. Gray said the sea surface temperatures were warm, there was a strong low-level convergence, there was a low-level horizontal wind shear, and a low vertical wind shear, all meteorological terms that spell trouble when combined.
"It is unusual to have these four required conditions come together so perfectly at one time," Klotzbach said.
Gray said that this season's long westward tracks not typical of most hurricane seasons in the past decade contributed to Florida's problems.
Gray said that there's been at least one named storm in existence every day since Aug. 25. On Friday, Tropical Storm Lisa was still heading north 1,070 miles west of the Azores.
Additionally, September saw two very long-lived intense hurricanes. Hurricane Frances' life included 7.25 intense days, and Hurricane Ivan had 10 intense days, the most for any single hurricane on record since 1900.
Gray said September had more intense hurricane days than any September since 1950.
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