DENVER -- Hurricane researchers at Colorado State University said yesterday that this year's hurricane season won't be as bad as earlier predicted and said a monster storm like Katrina is unlikely.
``The probability of another Katrina-like event is very small," said Phillip Klotzbach, lead forecaster for the university's hurricane research team.
The researchers reduced the number of likely hurricanes from nine to seven, and the number of intense hurricanes from five to three.
There is, however, a considerably higher-than-average probability of at least one intense hurricane making landfall in the United States this year, 73 percent. The average is 52 percent.
Researcher William Gray said Atlantic Ocean surface temperatures are not quite as warm and surface pressure is not quite as low, both factors in the decision to revise the forecast.
Said Klotzbach: ``Overall, we think the 2006 Atlantic Basin tropical storm season will be somewhat active. This year it looks as if the East Coast is more likely to be targeted by Atlantic Basin hurricanes than the Gulf Coast, although the possibility exists that any point along the US coast could be affected."
Gray and his team say hurricane activity will continue to be above average for another 15 to 20 years.
The National Hurricane Center in Miami in May predicted 16 named storms in the Atlantic, six of them major hurricanes. As of yesterday, there have been three named storms. Thirteen major hurricanes have formed in the Atlantic Basin the past two years, seven of them striking the US coast, with devastating damage resulting from four of them in 2005: Dennis, Katrina, Rita, and Wilma.
Klotzbach and Gray call for a total of 15 named storms to form in the Atlantic Basin this year, down by two from their prediction May 31.