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Hurricane forecasts: Getting scarier

Yet another outlook bumps up the hurricane numbers.

During the winter it seemed that a succession of improbable snow forecasts was followed by a succession of improbable updates.

The 2010 hurricane outlooks have the same feel.

Yesterday, the Colorado State University forecasters, who have been doing this since 1984, updated its outlook and significantly increased its numbers.

They now are calling for 18 named storms, those with winds of at least 39 m.p.h., to form in the Atlantic Basin, which includes the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea.

In April, they saw 15 such storms. The new outlook foresees that 10 storms will grow into hurricanes, with four of those reaching "major" status with peak winds of at least 111 m.p.h.

The seasonal averages are about 10 named storms, six hurricanes and two majors.

As other forecasters, Colorado State's William Gray and Philip Klotzbach, are saying that a La Nina cooling of the tropical Pacific may occur, and that's a big deal for hurricanes in the Atlantic Basin.

Last season, a warming event, El Nino, suppressed tropical storms. During El Nino, which affects thousands of miles of ocean, strong west-to-east winds in the upper atmosphere shear off ambitious storms before they can grow dangerously.

The El Nino is done, and that would mean reduced shear. La Nina could mean litte or no shear.

In addtion, surface waters in the Atlantic Basin remain warmer than normal and "very conducive" for an active season, the Colorado State forecasters said.

You can find the full discussion and verification table here. To see how some recent forecasts have fared, go the end of the file.