Storm experts predict greater Caribbean activity

Graphic shows the tropical storms and hurricanes over the last 100 years and the dates on which they existed. About a third came after Oct. 1. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

Hurricane experts are predicting double the normal storm activity in the Caribbean basin from now until the official end of the season Nov. 30.

The prediction comes from Philip J. Klotzbach and William M. Gray at Colorado State University. They said the increased activity would be the result of a combination of La Niña conditions in the Pacific and warm Caribbean basin sea surface temperatures.

The two climate scientists operate the tropical Meteorological Project at the university. Gray has been involved in climate forecasts for 40 years. Klotzbach joined him in 2000. Their forecasts are world famous.

The men predicted a very active Atlantic basin hurricane season in 2011 and the above-average probability of a major hurricane landfall. They said in August that their data suggested that there would be nine hurricanes and 16 named storms this season. There have been that many so far.

Costa Rica seldom feels the direct impact of a hurricane, but the instability generated by the phenomena frequently brings heavy rains, flooding, landslides and other problems.

This is the first year that Klotzbach and Gray have issued a forecast for October and November. A report from the project said they decided to issue the forecast this year because Klotzbach has
demonstrated that late-season Caribbean basin activity can be predicted with just two indicators, one being the state of El Niño or La Niña in the Pacific. The other indicator is the size of the area that is warmer than 28.5 degrees C in the tropical Atlantic and Caribbean, the report said. That’s 83 degrees F.

They said they had been testing the model on data from 1982 to 2010 and others date from 1900.

Most Caribbean storm activity takes place alongside La Niña, which is the cold opposite of the warmer El Niño, and when the ocean temperature is warmer than normal as it is now.

About a third of the hurricanes and tropical storms developed after Oct. 1 over the last 100 years, said the project.

Right now just Tropical Storm Philippe is being tracked in the Atlantic. It is some 800 kilometers or 495 miles south southeast of Bermuda and still not a threat to land, according to the U.S. National Hurricane Center. However, there are two low pressure areas in the Pacific that might develop into storms, the center said Wednesday.

In Costa Rica, heavy rains fell Wednesday. Two persons died in an Orotina traffic accident on the Caldera highway blamed on the rain. The Interamerican Norte was narrowed by a landslide north of San José, and traffic police were on duty at the site.

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