Some forecasters see tame hurricane season

This image provided by NASA shows Hurricane Rina This image provided by NASA shows Hurricane Rina at 12:31 a.m. Wednesday. (Oct. 26, 2011) Photo Credit: AP

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With the start of the Atlantic hurricane season about five weeks away, forecasters are saying to expect an average or below-average season when it comes to the number of storms.

AccuWeather's forecast, released Thursday, says to look for a near-normal season of 12 named tropical storms, five of which will become hurricanes, two of them major.

The Weather Channel forecasts a below-average season: 11 named storms, six of them hurricanes and two of them major.

Colorado State University also predicts a below-average season: 10 named storms, four of them hurricanes, two major.

As for the likelihood of such storms hitting Long Island, the Colorado State University Tropical Meteorology Project calculates a 2.4 percent probability of one or more hurricanes making landfall in Suffolk County, and a 1.1 percent chance of one or more intense hurricanes hitting land. Those figures for Nassau County, respectively, are 0.5 percent and 0.2 percent.

Still, Long Islanders should not let down their guard, says Brian Colle, a professor at Stony Brook University's School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences.

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Predictions aside, he said, "No matter what the probability is, Long Island residents should be prepared for a land-falling storm. . . . In some sense we are overdue."

The Atlantic hurricane season, June 1 to Nov. 30, last year produced 19 named tropical storms, six of them hurricanes, according to federal forecasters.

Long Islanders experienced a near miss with Hurricane Irene, which passed to the west at tropical storm strength. It was the only hurricane to hit the United States last season.

With William Murphy

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