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UK forecasters: less active storm season

Met Office predicts 10 tropical storms from July through November.

BY STAFF REPORT | EXETER, UK | June 21, 2007

British forecasters at the Met Office are predicting a 2007 Atlantic hurricane season less active than that predicted by other forecasters.

The prediction, issued 19 days after the start of the hurricane season on June 1, said there would be 10 tropical storms between July and the end of the season on November 30. It said there was a 70 percent chance that seven to 13 tropical storms would occur.

"This represents below-normal activity relative to the 1990-2005 long-term average of 12.4," the office said.

There have already been two named storms this season, Andrea and Barry.

Unlike their American counterparts, the British forecasters did not predict how many of the tropical storms would develop into hurricanes. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has predicted 13 to 17 named storms, with seven to 10 becoming hurricanes. Forecasters at Colorado State University called for 17 named storms, nine of them hurricanes.

British officials said they believed their forecasting methodology was the most accurate.

"This unique Met Office forecast, the only one in the world produced using global climate models, has proven to provide unparalleled accuracy and advice in trials during 2005 and 2006," they said. "In both these years the Met Office forecast outperformed more traditional methods based on historical analysis alone."

Matt Huddleston, the Met Office's principal consultant on climate change, pointed to the agency's accuracy in past years.

"The Met Office forecast has already demonstrated its unparalleled skill over previous seasons, successfully predicting the change from the exceptionally active Atlantic season of 2005 to the below-normal season of 2006," he said. "This marked difference between seasons was missed by a number of statistical prediction methods, which have traditionally formed the basis of most published forecasts."

The office also said its short-range weather model has proven extremely accurate, pointing to it forecasts for Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

The Met Office said it forecast the landfall of Katrina "a full 12 hours ahead of any other model and track errors have decreased year on year."

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