GULF OF MEXICO — AccuWeather.com Hurricane Center meteorologists are predicting an active season for 2011, with more impact on the U.S. coastline than last year and with the Gulf Coast part of an area of higher concern.
Around 15 total storms are predicted this year, with eight of these becoming hurricanes, three of which will develop into major hurricanes.
As with most Atlantic hurricane seasons, the areas where storms are most likely to make landfall shift as the season progresses.
This year, the western Gulf Coast region is in the early-season risk area, while the eastern Gulf region will be in the mid- to late-season area.
“We feel that this season, there will be a higher potential for impacts across the southern part of the basin into the Gulf of Mexico during the first part of the season,” expert senior meteorologist and hurricane forecaster Paul Pastelok said. “This higher potential for impacts shift farther north into the southeast U.S. during the latter half of the season.”
However, during a given year, early-season storms can hit anywhere.
“In many of these years that we look at climatologically, you can have one or two early-season tropical cyclones almost anywhere in the basin,” AccuWeather.com expert senior meteorologist Dan Kottlowski said.
The Texas and western Louisiana coastlines are in a higher concern area again this season.
Another higher concern area during the middle to late part of the season in the Gulf Region is the southern tip of Florida.
Kottlowski said an area of high pressure over the Atlantic that helps guide tropical storms may steer more storms to this area.