Home News Local news Gray Sticks by His October Predictions While Rains Drench the Territory

Gray Sticks by His October Predictions While Rains Drench the Territory


Oct. 3, 2005 –– Three named storms, three hurricanes with one of them major, is Colorado State University forecaster William Gray's prediction for October, the same as he made for October in early September.
"Unfortunately, the very active season we have seen to this point is not yet over. We project that October will continue the trend of above-average activity that we have witnessed in the preceding four months of the hurricane season," Gray said in a news release issued Monday.
While the territory has been under wet skies since Sunday, National Weather Service meteorologist Ed Tirado said Monday from San Juan that this system doesn't look like it will develop into anything stronger.
He said a low-level trough moving through the area fired up thunderstorms Sunday, which should continue through Monday. They are dumping heavy rain across the territory. Between midnight and noon Monday, 1.27 inches of rain fell at Weather Station Zephyr in Coral Bay, St. John.
However, Tirado said the upper level trough that has caused cloudy skies, but not the rain, is not expected to clear until mid-week.
Gray and his team, based at Colorado State University in Fort Collins, said the October prediction is nearly double the long-term average.
Gray's team continues to predict that 20 named storms, 10 hurricanes and six intense hurricanes will be the totals for this hurricane season. They made the same prediction in September.
The team credits several factors with this year's increased activity. They include warmer than average Atlantic sea surface temperatures, lower than normal Atlantic sea level pressures, lower than average vertical wind shear, and moister lower and middle atmosphere conditions.
Gray said that this year, as in 2004, an unusual high-pressure ridge over the northeast United States caused many of the western Atlantic and Caribbean-forming systems to head west towards Mexico or the Gulf states. And the number of tropical cyclones that formed in the western part of the Atlantic basin has been much larger than last year. Many more tropical cyclones formed in the central Atlantic last year.
He said that in the years 1995 to 2003, an unusual trough along the East Coast allowed most storms to recurve before making landfall on the East Coast.
Tirado further explained that left to their own devices, storms try to head north, but weather patterns change their direction.
"They look for weaknesses," he said.
The African dust that blew across the Atlantic Ocean in August and September helped prevent storms from developing because it dries out the mid-level atmosphere, but Tirado said it's impossible to predict if that will hold true for October.
"It depends on the ridge across the Atlantic and how strong the waves are coming off Africa," he said.
While the territory has, so far, been spared, that has not been the case on the Gulf Coast. Officials are still counting the dead from Hurricane Katrina, the most destructive hurricane in recorded hurricane history, and Hurricane Rita.
In the case of the Gulf Coast, Gray said it was unusual but not unprecedented for two major hurricanes to hit. He said that in 1915, a Category 4 hurricane passed just west of Galveston and another Category 4 hit New Orleans.
As of the end of September, 17 named storms developed. Nine were hurricanes, with five of those major hurricanes with winds of over 111 mph.
The long-term average stands at 9.6 named storms, 5.9 hurricanes and 2.3 intense hurricanes per year.
Gray said that he and his team were close to the mark in August and September. August saw five named storms, two hurricanes and one major hurricane develop. The team predicted five named storms, three hurricanes, and one major hurricane. For September, five named storms, five hurricanes and two major hurricanes developed. Gray's team predicted five named storms, four hurricanes and two major hurricanes.
Gray said that the years 1995, which is when the territory took a hit from Hurricane Marilyn, through 2004 were the 10 most active consecutive years on record. He said 2005 continues that trend.
And, he said that the United States is in a new, multi-decadal era for increased storm activity.
"We expect this active tropical cyclone era to likely span the next two or three decades," team member Philip Klotzbach said.
Gray and his team do not think this increased activity is due to global warming, but rather long-term natural climate alterations that have occurred many times in the past.
He said that if global warming was the case, the number of storms in other areas would also increase.
"This has not occurred," he said.
Gray and his team do not predict the probability of a named storm hitting somewhere in the Caribbean, but put the probability of one hitting the U.S. coastline at 49 percent for October. The long-term average stands at 29 percent.

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