Meteorologists Philip Klotzbach and William Gray -- in the 27th annual early extended-range hurricane forecast issued by Colorado State University's Tropical Meteorology Project -- predict 11-16 named storms will develop, 6-8 of them hurricanes and 3-5 of the hurricanes to become major hurricanes with winds of 111 mph or greater.
The team said its December early season forecast calls for a range of storms since the report is based on Atlantic basin conditions that can change substantially by the June 1 start of the hurricane season. Klotzbach and Gray said they will issue specific numerical predictions in their next forecast April 7.
"We foresee a somewhat above-average Atlantic basin hurricane season," Gray said. "We anticipate the current El Nino event to dissipate by the 2010 hurricane season and warm sea surface temperatures are likely to continue being present in the tropical and North Atlantic during 2010 -- conditions that contribute to an above-average season."
Klotzbach's and Gray's forecast includes:
-- A 64 percent chance of at least one major hurricane making landfall on the U.S. coastline during 2010. The long-term average probability is 52 percent.
-- A 40 percent probability of a major hurricane making landfall along the U.S. East Coast, including the Florida Peninsula, and along the Gulf Coast from the Florida Panhandle west to Brownsville, Texas. The long-term average for both areas is about 30 percent.
-- A 53 percent chance of a major hurricane making landfall in the Caribbean. The average probability in that area during the last century is 42 percent.
The 2010 hurricane season runs from June 1 through Nov. 30.