Research shows the Americas is in for a very stormy year [Reuters]

As we approach the beginning of the 2011 hurricane season on June 1, we look at the forecast numbers with mixed reactions. 

Two recognised universities have come out with the preliminary numbers and have placed 2011 as an above average year for named tropical storms.

On average the Atlantic basin will see 10 tropical storms with five being of hurricane strength. 

This year notable hurricane expert Dr William Gray and his team at the Colorado State University have predicted that this number will be higher with 16 named storms, nine being of hurricane strength.

Another reputable team of meteorologist from the Pennsylvania State University has released similar numbers calling for 12-20 named storms.

Dr Gray also states that there is an above average chance that a major hurricane will make landfall on a Caribbean or US coast. 

A major hurricane is a category three intensity or higher consisting of sustained winds of 178 kph or greater.

There are two way to look at this prediction; with concern and preparedness, or with a slight sense of relief and hope. 

An above average hurricane season raises the probabilities that Caribbean Islands and coastal regions of the US and Mexico will be devastated by damaging winds, storm surge and flooding. 

This is especially relevant for the Gulf of Mexico states of Louisiana and Mississippi where flood waters from the Mississippi Rivers will takes weeks if not longer to recede. 

A tropical system, especially in June, would put only more stress on already burdened levees.

On the other side of the coin, we have Cuba, northern Mexico and the south-central and southwestern regions of the US. 

That are experiencing extreme drought conditions.  Any tropical system moving past or over these areas will bring much needed rain to help restore their reserves of waters.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is also expected to put out its forecast in the next few weeks, but most likely with similar predictions. 

As the season progresses these numbers will be tweaked slightly, but we should be in for a very stormy year.

Source: Agencies