I have to say, I am a bit staggered by just how severe the forecast from NOAA is for the Atlantic hurricane year 2010. We know these predictions aren't always spot on, but they get increasingly accurate as the season nears--and now just before June 1, NOAA is calling for 14-23 named storms, 8-14 hurricanes, and 3-7 major hurricanes. In short, they're calling for a year that would almost rival the worst year on record--2005--the year of Katrina, Rita, and Wilma. And of course, it hardly helps matters that we have tons of oil in the Gulf this year. If NOAA's forecast is really correct, it's hard for me to imagine that there won't be a number of storms that get into the Gulf and threaten to disrupt clean up operations and/or to drive oil all over the place. This makes success in BP's ongoing "top kill" effort pretty crucial. If they can't get the spill stopped now, and it keeps pouring out oil well into the summer, then there will be hurricanes to contend with--and in a bad year, like 2005, the really strong ones can even come in July. For more on what would happen if a strong hurricane hit the oil slick, check out my Slate.com piece on this subject.
This just in: Michael Mann of Penn State (working with grad student Michael Kozar) has also just released a seasonal hurricane forecast--and it is even scarier. Due to the strong heat anomaly in the Atlantic's "main development region" for hurricanes, Mann and Kozar forecast between 19 and 28 storms this season!