Revised prediction gives 39% chance of major storm

This was the situation Thursday night, according to the U.S. National Hurricane Center

Forecasters are predicting three tropical cyclones that could affect Costa Rica before the end of the Atlantic hurricane season.

So far there have been three tropical storms and two hurricanes in the Atlantic, and none has had a major impact on Costa Rica. However, the Instituto Meteorológico Nacional said Thursday that a new analysis predicts 10 to 14 named storms for this year.

The hurricane season ends Nov. 30.

The weather institute based its predictions on the work of Philip Klotzbach and William Gray at Colorado State University and the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

The Colorado State prediction gives a 39 percent chance of a major hurricane of category 3, 4 or 5 tracking into the Caribbean this season. The two researchers say that the remainder of 2012 will see about five hurricanes and 10 named storms. The probability of U.S. major hurricane landfall and Caribbean major hurricane activity for the remainder of the 2012 season is estimated to be slightly below its long-period average, they said.

The Colorado State prediction is slightly higher than the one made in early April due to uncertainty of the progress of El Niño in the central Pacific and slightly more favorable tropical Atlantic conditions, they said.

The forecast also gives a 48 percent chance of one major hurricane hitting the U.S. coastal area. The prediction for such a storm hitting the East coast and Florida is 28 percent, they said. Both percentages are slightly below the average.

Klotzbach and Gray said that a warming trend in the tropical Pacific has slackened somewhat in recent weeks, and they are unsure as to how much of an impact El Niño will have on this year’s hurricane season. The men are the authorities on hurricane prediction. Gray pioneered hurricane prediction during his long career. They said they would be updating their predictions every two weeks for the rest of the season.

Although Atlantic hurricanes hardly ever make landfall on Costa Rica, the country can experience heavy rain and major damage when a storm comes nearby. Ernesto was a tropical storm when it moved north and brushed the northern coast of Honduras this week. It later developed into a hurricane. The weather institute said there was some impact on the Pacific coast, but separating the rain caused by Ernesto from that typical of the rainy season was challenging.

Costa Rica’s Pacific coast also feels the impact of storms in the Pacific. Even a low pressure system moving up from Panamá can cause heavy rains. Typically these tropical storms and hurricanes move north and west although some make landfall in México.

Ernesto is still a storm over southern México, and the U.S. National Hurricane Center shows a tropical depression in the mid-Atlantic and two low pressure areas that are being observed.

One is just off the African coast with a 30 percent chance estimated of becoming a storm.

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