With the 2007 Atlantic hurricane season a few hours away, researcher William Gray released his newest forecast still showing an expectation for 17 named storms and nine hurricanes, five of them intense.
Gray, based at Colorado State University, described it as a very active season. He said there was a 74% chance of a major hurricane making landfall somewhere on the U.S. coast.
There is a 50% chance of a major hurricane making landfall on the East Coast, including the Florida Peninsula, according to the new forecast; the long-term average is 31%.
The chance of a major hurricane hitting the Gulf Coast between the Florida Panhandle and Brownsville, Texas, is 49%; the long-term average is 30%. There is also an above-average chance of a major hurricane making landfall in the Caribbean, according to the forecast.
Thursday's forecast was largely unchanged from Gray's last forecast, released in early April.
"We expect an above-average hurricane season," said Phil Klotzbach, a member of Gray's team and lead author of the forecast.
The Atlantic hurricane season, which runs from June 1 to Nov. 30, averages 9.6 named storms, 5.9 hurricanes and 2.3 intense hurricanes per year.
There were 10 named Atlantic storms last year and five hurricanes, two of them major. None of the hurricanes hit the U.S. Atlantic coast.
The devastating 2005 season set a record with 28 named storms, 15 of them hurricanes. Four hurricanes hit the U.S. coast, the worst among them Katrina, which devastated parts of the Gulf Coast.