December 7, 1996 in Nation/World

Storm Expert Predicts 7 Hurricanes Next Year


Next year’s hurricane season will begin with Ana and end with Kate if Dr. William M. Gray is right. The atmospheric scientist’s long-range forecast, issued Friday from non-tropical Colorado, said seven of the 11 named storms will become hurricanes.

If so, the span of 1995-97 will become the most active three-year period in the 126-year recorded history of the Atlantic, Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico. The previous four years, collectively, were the slowest on record.

“It appears that we have left the period of lessened hurricane activity,” Gray said. He has expected that for the last few years, with increasing vulnerability for Florida, the other southeastern states, the Bahamas and northwest Caribbean.

Another season more active than average would reinforce Gray’s growing concern that the late 1990s will be one of the worst periods for hurricanes, comparable to that between the middle 1940s and late ‘60s. The average season has 10 storms, six of which become hurricanes.

Here are the hurricane names for the 1997 Atlantic season, which begins June 1:

Ana, Bill, Claudette, Danny, Erika, Fabian, Grace, Henri, Isabel, Juan, Kate, Larry, Mindy.

No names beginning with Q,U,X,Y or Z are designated. It’s also rare to need any after M.

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