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5/24/2013 - Heightened risk for hurricane to affect mainland, Colorado researchers say

The East Coast could be affected by roughly a dozen hurricanes and severe storms this year.

Researchers say that not only will there be more than a dozen hurricanes that form in the Atlantic this year, but there's a strong likelihood that the East Coast will be impacted by one directly.

Over the past several years, while many entrepreneurs have had to file businessowners insurance claims because of the effects of hurricanes, the wind and rain that's been produced by these storms have been from their outskirts. This year, however, Colorado State University scientists believe that there's a 72% likelihood that a hurricane will make landfall.

Phil Klotzbach, who co-authored the report with fellow climatologist William Gray, indicated that coastal water surface temperatures in the Atlantic Ocean have risen considerably over the past several months, which is highly unusual. This decreases the chances that an El Nino event will transpire.

"Typically, El Nino is associated with stronger vertical shear across the tropical Atlantic, creating conditions less conducive for storm formation," said Klotzbach.

Chance of hurricane affecting Florida nearly 50%
CSU researchers gave estimates for the likelihood of hurricanes making landfall in several parts of the U.S. For example, for Florida, there's a 48% chance that a hurricane will hit the state, which is considerably higher than where the odds have been over the past century, averaging 31%. Similarly, there's a 61% potential for a hurricane impacting the Caribbean, up from 42% over the past 100 years.

Klotzbach added that while predictions may be helpful to climatologists and meteorologists as far as gauging the potential for a storm to occur, residents themselves should treat every hurricane season the same way. In other words, prepare as though a major hurricane is about to take place.

"It takes only one landfall event near you to make this an active season," said Klotzbach.

Hurricane season begins June 1 and ends on November 30, though there have been storms that have materialized in months before and after the traditional time in which they form. The earliest hurricane to form in a calendar year was on March 6, 1908, according to data compiled by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. And the strongest November hurricane was Lenny, which produced winds in excess of 155 mph, in 1999.

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