WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Dr. William Gray, a professor at Colorado State University and a well-known hurricane prognosticator, has issued his latest forecast for the 1999 hurricane season, which runs from June 1 through Nov. 30.
Gray believes that this season will see 14 named storms, meaning weather systems will reach at least tropical-storm strength (with wind speeds 40-73 mph). The seasonal average of named storms is 9.3.
Of the 14 storms, the professor predicts nine will reach hurricane strength, with winds at least 74 mph (a Category I hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson Scale). The average number of these seasonal storms is 5.8. Gray further predicts that four of the nine hurricanes will attain an "intense" level, meaning they will register as Category III, IV or V. The average number of these type storms is 2.2 per season.
The professor also predicts there will be at least 40 days during which a storm maintains at least a Category I status and 10 days during which storms will be Category III or higher.
Areas he believes have the highest likelihood of hurricanes making landfall are the East Coast, including the Florida Peninsula, and the Gulf Coast from the Florida Peninsula to Brownsville, TX. For the former, Gray predicts a 185 percent higher than normal chance one of these storms will make a direct hit and for the latter area, the chances are 168 percent higher than normal.