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CNN Today

Hurricane Forecaster Predicting Busy Season

Aired June 7, 2000 - 2:50 p.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

LOU WATERS, CNN ANCHOR: We're only a week into the Atlantic hurricane season and at least one forecasters is predicting it could be a busier season than he had first predicted.

As CNN's John Zarrella reports from Miami, experts blame a stubborn climate phenomenon thousands of miles away.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JOHN ZARRELLA, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): He's not always right, but most of the time, Bill Gray, the guru of hurricane forecasts, is pretty close. Gray has been predicting that this hurricane season, which began about a week ago, would be an above average year with 11 named storms. Now, Gray says, it's going to be more active than he originally thought. He's upped the number to a dozen, eight of them becoming hurricanes. Of greatest significance, Gray believes four of those will be major storms, on the order of Hugo, Andrew and Floyd.

BILL GRAY, HURRICANE FORECASTER: These major ones require all the global climate signals to be right, and they are more right now.

ZARRELLA: One key signal is La Nina, a huge pool of cold water in the Pacific Ocean. When La Nina's present, more hurricanes form in the Atlantic. Scientists thought La Nina would fade out this summer, but it is holding on. Hurricane researchers say this means the odds are there will be more storms later into the season.

DR. ROBERT BLACK, HURRICANE FORECASTER: You have the warm water lasting over a longer period and you have favorable wind shear so that more of those storms that come off -- more of those waves that come off of Africa every three to four days will develop.

ZARRELLA: Hurricane experts say people living along the U.S. coastline have been extraordinarily lucky. For the most part, the major hurricanes in recent years have turned away or lost strength before making landfall. Gray believes luck will eventually run out.

GRAY: It seems inevitable that we're going to see hurricane damage like we've never previously seen it.

ZARRELLA: In the first five years of the '90s, there were only five major hurricanes, category three and above. Since then, there have been 20. Experts say it is clear increased hurricane activity, coupled with enormous coastal development, are the ingredients for a disaster.

John Zarrella, CNN, Miami.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

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