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Expect an ‘active’ East Coast hurricane season, forecasters say

Superstorm Sandy churns off the East Coast on

Superstorm Sandy churns off the East Coast on Oct. 28, 2012. Credit: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

This year’s August to October hurricane season on the Atlantic Coast looks like a busy one.

Forecasters now see a 71 percent probability of a hurricane striking Florida and the East Coast during that period, a report said Friday.

That is up from the 51 percent probability seen in April, according to a Colorado State University report.

The odds of the most dangerous hurricanes, categories 3 through 5, hitting Florida and the East Coast increased to 38 percent from 24 percent in April, the forecasters said.

New York faces more risk than some mid-Atlantic states. There is a 10 percent probability for any category hurricane hitting New York, and a 4 percent chance of a major hurricane hitting the state, the report said.

The researchers included their standard cautions, advising coastal residents to be prepared. They noted: “It only takes one hurricane making landfall to make it an active season for them.”

Warmer-than-normal temperatures in the tropics, low vertical wind shear and neutral El Nino conditions will heighten the risks, the report said.

Wind shear, defined as any change in wind speed or direction along a straight line, “is often the most critical factor controlling hurricane formation and destruction,” according to Weather Underground, a weather service.

El Nino, marked by unusually warm surface temperatures in the tropical Pacific Ocean, can help shield the Atlantic basin from hurricanes by creating strong, vertical wind shear.

The Colorado researchers now predict a total of eight hurricanes in the Atlantic area — up from the average of 5.5 — and double the 4 expected in April.

Three of the hurricanes that could strike during the most active August to October period could rank among the most powerful categories, compared to an average of 2, the forecasters said.

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