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'Global Warming' Not Cause of Hurricanes
Hurricane researcher William Gray on Monday forecast two hurricanes, one of them one major, for the rest of October - nearly double the long-term average for the month.
Gray and fellow researcher Philip Klotzbach of Colorado State University said the likelihood of a major hurricane crossing the U.S. coastline is 15 percent, more than double the long-term average of 6 percent.
"Unfortunately, the very active season we have seen to this point is not yet over," Gray said.
Gray and Klotzbach said the likelihood of a named storm hitting the U.S. coast in October is 49 percent, compared with an average of 29 percent from 1950 to 2000. The probability of a hurricane making landfall in the U.S. is 21 percent, compared with the long-term average of 15 percent, they said.
Through the end of September, the 2005 season has had nine hurricanes, five of them major, and 17 named storms. The 50-year average is 5.9 hurricanes, 2.3 of them major, and 9.6 named storms for an entire season.Three of this year's major hurricanes - Dennis, Katrina and Rita - made landfall. Ophelia hit the North Carolina coast as a Category 1 hurricane although its eye remained just offshore.
Gray and Klotzbach said factors behind this year's active season include warmer-than-average Atlantic Ocean surface temperatures and lower-than-normal sea level pressures, lower-than-average vertical wind shears and moister conditions in the lower and middle atmosphere.
They said they do not attribute the active season to human-induced global warming. Instead, they cited "long-period natural climate alterations that historical and paleo-climate records show to have occurred many times in the past."