Forecaster Predicts Slightly Calmer 2006 Hurricane Season

A forecaster predicts that the Gulf Coast is highly unlikely to see hurricanes next year as destructive as those that roared ashore in 2004 and 2005.

Colorado State University hurricane forecaster William Gray has been predicting hurricane activity for 22 years.

He and a fellow researcher say after Hurricanes Dennis, Katrina, Rita and Wilma combined for the costliest hurricane season on record, the 2006 season will probably see higher-than-average hurricane activity but fewer intense storms making landfall.

Gray had predicted 2005 would see eleven named storms with six becoming hurricanes. His forecast said three hurricanes would be major storms.

During the season, there were 26 named storms, 14 of which were hurricanes and seven of which were intense hurricanes.

For 2006, Gray predicts 17 named storms, nine of which could become hurricanes and five of which are expected to develop into major hurricanes.