Hurricane expert William Gray in December predicted the 17 tropical storms, with five of the nine hurricanes having winds in excess of 110 mph. He reiterated that forecast Wednesday.
Gray and colleague Philip Klotzbach, both of Colorado State University, said information obtained through this month continues to suggest the 2006 Atlantic hurricane season will be much more active than the average 1950-2000 season, with 13 intense hurricane days, as compared with the average of five.
"The probability of U.S. major hurricane landfall is estimated to be about 60 percent above the long-period average," Gray said. "Landfall probabilities are based upon ... analysis of our new steering current predictors for the East Coast and Gulf Coast of the United States."
He said although weak La Niña conditions have mostly returned to near neutral sea surface temperatures, conditions in the tropical Atlantic Ocean have become more favorable for an active hurricane season since weaker trade winds have led to anomalous warming of the tropical Atlantic since early April.