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Expert: 2015 Hurricane Season Could Be Least Active in Half-Century

Hurricane Sandy takes aim at New Jersey. (Credit: CIMSS/University of Wisconsin)

Hurricane Sandy takes aim at New Jersey. (Credit: CIMSS/University of Wisconsin)

A team led by renowned tropical weather forecaster William Gray is predicting the 2015 Atlantic hurricane season will be the least active since the mid-20th century.

“It appears quite likely that an El Niño of at least moderate strength will develop this summer and fall,” Gray’s team, from the University of Colorado, wrote in a report issued this week. “The tropical and subtropical Atlantic are also quite cool at present. We anticipate a below-average probability for major hurricanes making landfall along the United States coastline and in the Caribbean.”

Still, the team said, coastal residents should prepare for hurricane season, which begins June 1, as they usually do.

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The forecast calls for seven named storms in 2015 (storms receive a name when they reach tropical storm status, with sustained winds of 39 m.p.h. or higher), three hurricanes and one major hurricane. Because of the overall low number of storms that will form, the chance of a storm making landfall is “well below average,” the forecast said.

The median number of hurricanes person season since 1981 is 6.5, with 12 named storms and and two major hurricanes (meaning they reach category 3, 4 or 5). Hurricane season runs June 1 through Nov. 30.

The forecast is based on an extended-range early April statistical prediction scheme that was developed utilizing 29 years of past data, the report said. The full report is available online.