September 2, 2005

Strong chance another big hurricane will hit US

By Jane Sutton

MIAMI (Reuters) - The record-breaking Atlantic hurricane
season is only half over and there is a 43 percent chance
another major hurricane will hit the U.S. coast in September, a
noted storm forecaster said on Friday.

"Unfortunately, we are continuing the bad news by
predicting above-average activity for September and October,"
said Colorado State University hurricane researcher William

Hurricane Katrina is believed to have killed thousands of
people along the U.S. Gulf Coast and inflicted the greatest
losses ever caused by a hurricane in the United States. The
economic loss from the storm is expected to top $100 billion.

Gray and his colleagues calculated there was a 43 percent
chance another major hurricane with top winds over 110 mph (177
kph) would strike somewhere along the U.S. coast in September.

For October, the chance of that happening is 15 percent,
they said.

That was based on the Colorado State University team's
monthly updated forecast for the June-November Atlantic
hurricane season, issued on Friday.

They stuck with earlier estimates the season would bring 20
named tropical storms, with 10 of those becoming hurricanes and
six strengthening into major hurricanes.

By Thursday, 12 named storms, four hurricanes and three
major hurricanes had come and gone. Midway through the season,
that tally was already 110 percent of the historical average
for the whole six-month season.

"The very active season we have seen to this point is far
from over," said Philip Klotzbach, another of the Colorado
State researchers.

Tropical Storm Maria, No. 13, formed in the Atlantic Ocean
on Friday but that one did not threaten land, the National
Hurricane Center in Miami said.

It was about 880 miles east-northeast of the northern
Leeward Islands of the Caribbean and moving west. Forecasters
said it would gradually turn northwest on a course that would
keep it well away from land. It had top winds of 40 mph (65)
kph and was not expected to strengthen.

September is traditionally the most active month for
hurricane activity.

The Atlantic has entered an era of increased major
hurricane activity that is expected to last two or three
decades. Conditions this year are especially favorable for more
and stronger hurricanes. The ocean is warmer than usual and the
wind and temperature fluctuations that tend to squelch Atlantic
storms are not present.