MIAMI, Oct 2 (Reuters) The noted Colorado State University hurricane research team predicted today that the current Atlantic hurricane season would see four more storms, of which two would become hurricanes.
Thirteen named storms have already formed this year and four of them have reached hurricane strength. The forecast from the noted research team effectively raised the season's forecast to 17 storms from 15.
The Colorado State team, founded by forecasting pioneer Bill Gray and now led by researcher Phil Klotzbach, said they expected Tropical Storm Karen to be raised to hurricane status in a post-season analysis, meaning the season would have a total of seven hurricanes.
The official six-month Atlantic hurricane season runs from June 1 to Nov. 30 but historically the busiest part of the season ends in mid-October.
The Colorado State University team predicted a month ago the season would produce 15 tropical storms, of which seven would become hurricanes and four would be major hurricanes with winds over 177 kph.
The season has already seen two major hurricanes, Dean and Felix, both of which reached Category 5, the top rank on the five-stage Saffir-Simpson scale of hurricane intensity.
Dean skirted Jamaica and then hammered Mexico in August and Felix struck Central America in early September, killing scores of people.
It was the first time two Category 5 hurricanes have hit land in the Atlantic basin in a single season since record-keeping began in 1851.
The Colorado State team's preseason prediction, issued at the end of May, was for 17 tropical storms with nine hurricanes and five major hurricanes.
The long-term average for Atlantic hurricane seasons is about 10 storms, of which six become hurricanes.
While the number of storms that have formed so far this year is above-average, strong wind shear -- a difference in wind speeds at different altitudes -- has stopped many from strengthening and kept them short-lived.
Reuters ARB GC2002