FORT COLLINS, Colo. - Hurricane forecasters at Colorado State University have scaled back their prediction for the Atlantic and are now calling for an average season with 12 named storms, including six hurricanes, two of them major.
In December, researchers William Gray and Phil Klotzbach predicted an above-average season with 14 named storms with seven hurricanes — three major.
Gray said Tuesday the forecast was dialed down because of improved chances of El Nino conditions, which suppress hurricane formation.
This is Gray's 26th year of forecasting hurricanes. His predictions are watched closely by emergency responders and others, but many say long-range forecasts have little practical value beyond focusing public attention on the dangers.
The season runs June 1-Nov. 30.
Sarasota and Manatee County Emergency Management have announced that they will suspend operations immediately and disband as soon as is possible. Said new FEMA director, Craig Fugate, "Given the history of Dr. Gray's dour predictions of hurricanes wiping out Sarasota and the surrounding area for the last several years, we are convinced that his forecast of a less-than-apocalyptic hurricane season this year will spell certain doom for the Suncoast. That said, we are advising an immediate abandonment of Charlotte, Sarasota and Manatee Counties until December, 2009, at which time, we expect the three-county area to be devoid of all living things and rendered uninhabitable for several years to come."
Upon hearing this grim assessment, Michael Saunders of Michael Saunders Realty released the following statement: "On the advice of Federal Emergency officials, Michael Saunders Realty will close all of our local offices, effective immediately. Our Siesta Key and Longboat Key offices will relocate to Arcadia and begin selling oceanfront property just west of downtown Arcadia. We are excited about this new opportunity to serve our current and future customers and look forward to partnering with the foresighted leaders of Arcadia in several high-profile publicly-funded, privately-owned developments to make their town the new crown jewel of beach resorts."