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Old 12-12-2005, 04:32   #1
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2006 Hurricane Forecast ~ "Active Year"

2006 to be ‘very active’ for hurricanes

A noted hurricane researcher has bad news for storm-weary residents in the United States — another “very active” Atlantic hurricane season is likely in 2006.

William Gray and his colleague, Philip Klotzbach, at Colorado State University this week issued a forecast, calling for 17 named storms, including nine hurricanes, to form in the Atlantic next year. Of those, five will be considered major hurricanes — those ranked Category 3 and higher with winds in excess of 111 mph.

The good news, however, is that the researchers do not expect as many major hurricanes to make landfall in the United States as they did in 2005.

This year’s record-breaking season included 26 named storms, including 13 hurricanes. Of those, Katrina, Wilma and Rita slammed the Southeast.

The hurricanes were so brutal this year that storm-weary residents in Florida’s Key West celebrated the season’s end by burning hurricane warning flags.

Scores of local residents gathered for a beach party and flag-torching ceremony on Nov. 30, according to news reports. When winds thwarted efforts to set the red and black flags ablaze, an official reportedly doused the flags with rum.

The annual hurricane season officially kicks off June 1 and runs through Nov. 30.

Gray, professor of atmospheric science, and his team have been issuing hurricane forecasts for 23 years. This year, for the first time, Klotzbach, Gray’s student and associate, was the lead author of the report. He has been working with Gray for the past five years. Gray, 75, said he is still closely involved with issuing forecasts, but devotes his efforts to researching global warming issues and other hurricane-related studies.

By Philip J. Klotzbach, and William M. Gray,
with special assistance from William Thorson
Gord May
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