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      Another busy hurricane season expected

      Drs. Phil Klotzbach and William Gray from Colorado State University released their first 2013 hurricane season outlook and it's no surprise, it's expected to be another busy season.

      The forecast calls for 18 named storms, nine becoming hurricanes and four of those becoming major hurricanes (Winds {>} 110mph). These numbers are above the long term average (1966 - 2012) of 11 named storms, 6 hurricanes and 2 major hurricanes.

      There are two primary reasons for the above normal forecast: 1. Warmer than average waters. 2. Lack of an El Nino. Despite a very cool spring and water temperatures off our coast 10 - 15 cooler than last year at this time, the water in the deep tropics is above average.

      Strong high pressure over Greenland allowed a trough of low pressure to develop along the eastern seaboard that produced a sustained chill in the Carolinas for much of March.

      Meanwhile, beneath the high pressure system, the air was sinking, warming and hardly moving, producing ideal conditions for ocean warming. Much of the Main Development Region (MDR) between Africa and the Lesser Antilles, where most of the big and bad hurricanes form, is already several degrees above average.

      Warmer water provides more fuel for tropical systems. An El Nino during the hurricane season produces more wind shear that tends to tear systems apart, reducing the number of storms that form.

      Unfortunately, the waters off of South America have been cooling, suggesting an El Nino is unlikely to be present during the heart of hurricane season.

      Wild cards for the 2013 hurricane season include how unstable the air will be and how much dust will blow into the Atlantic ocean from Africa. Low instability and lots of dust severely inhibit tropical storm growth while unstable air and little dust promote tropical storm growth. Its simply too early to know how these features will impact the hurricane season.

      Forecasts like this give us a good idea of how many storms will form, but cannot accurately predict if or where a storm will make landfall.

      In 2010, 19 named storms formed, yet not a single hurricane hit the United States. In 1992, only 7 storms formed. That was the year that category 5 hurricane Andrew slammed into south Florida.

      As Chief Meteorologist Ed Piotrowski says every year, it doesn't matter if there are 5 or 25 named storms. It only takes one hit to make it really bad season. That's why it's best to be prepared every single year regardless of the number of storms forecast.