U.S. forecaster sees increased 2010 hurricane threat

MIAMI (Reuters) – The 2010 Atlantic hurricane season will produce an above-average eight hurricanes, four of them major, posing a heightened threat to the U.S. coastline, the Colorado State University hurricane forecasting team predicted on Wednesday. In its second forecast in four months for the 2010 season, the leading storm research team founded by hurricane forecast pioneer William Gray said the six-month season beginning on June 1 would likely see 15 named tropical storms. The team forecast a 69 percent chance of at least one major hurricane making landfall on the U.S. coastline in 2010, compared with a long-term average probability of 52 percent. Major hurricanes pack powerful sustained winds of at least 111 miles per hour (178 km per hour). For the Gulf Coast, from the Florida Panhandle west to Brownsville, Texas, including the Gulf of Mexico oil patch, the probability of a major hurricane making landfall was seen at 44 percent versus a long-term average of 30 percent, the