Washington, April 10 : Hurricane forecasters at Colorado State University (CSU) in US have predicted a "well above average" 2008 hurricane season, with 15 named tropical storms gathering between June 1 and November 30.
According to a report in National Geographic News, long-term yearly averages are nine or ten named storms, six hurricanes, and two intense hurricanes per year.
Eight of the 2008 storms are expected to intensify into hurricanes, which are defined as having winds of at least 74 miles (119 kilometers) an hour, the report added.
The forecasters have also predicted that four major hurricanes, including one with a good chance of hitting the United States, will form in the Atlantic Ocean during the upcoming hurricane season.
"There is a 70 percent likelihood that a major hurricane will make landfall somewhere on the US East Coast during the coming season," said CSU forecasters William Gray and Phil Klotzbach.
According to Gray, who has been issuing long-range hurricane forecasts for decades, the summer of 2008 will continue a trend of above-average hurricane seasons that started in 1995.
The report said that the stormier summers have been due to ocean currents that cause an increase in the Atlantic's salt content, which in turn causes an increase in water temperature.
The fluctuations are cyclical, with warming and cooling cycles typically lasting about 30 years.
Meanwhile, meteorologist Joe Bastardi of AccuWeather has predicted 12 or 13 tropical storms will form and produce three or four hurricanes and one major hurricane in 2008.
"That's fewer storms than the CSU forecasters predict but still above-average activity," he said.
According to Keith Blackwell, a meteorologist at the Coastal Weather Research Center at the University of South Alabama, important indications are there that the summer of 2008 could be stormier than last year.
What Blackwell noted was that water temperatures are well above normal for this time of year off Cape Verde on the west coast of Africa.
Hurricanes draw their energy from warm ocean water, and some of the worst hurricanes in history have started as storms off Cape Verde, he said.
Other conditions are also in place that could reduce the upper-level winds over the Atlantic, which can prevent a hurricane from strengthening.
"It does look like it's shaping up for an active season, if these features remain in place for the next few months," said Blackwell.