Watch out, coastal America: the hurricane researchers at Colorado State University are predicting 2008 will be a major year for storms, with eight hurricanes forming in the Atlantic, four of them "major":


Tuesday's forecast by William Gray and his team of researchers at Colorado State University calls for a very active season, with 15 named storms, including tropical storm Arthur, which formed on May 31. [...]

Last month, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration forecast 12 to 16 named storms, including six to nine hurricanes.

Warmer water temperatures in the Atlantic and low sea level pressure contributed to the prediction of a busy season.

"Conditions in the tropical Atlantic look quite favorable for an active hurricane season," said Phil Klotzbach, lead author of the university's forecast.

Hurricane predictions are in inexact science. As the report notes, the CSU team predicted 17 "named storms," including nine hurricanes, five major in 2007; in reality, there were 14 named storms, six hurricanes, two major.

Most experts famously missed Hurricane Katrina in 2005, leading to upgrades in hurricane-forecasting models by NOAA and Rhode Island University in 2006. But in 2007 the predictions were still wide of the mark, leading some to speculate that the complex models of meteorologists are no more accurate than the predictions of psychics.

Pinpointing which year a massive hurricane will strike may still be escaping the experts, but there's a growing body evidence in support of a more long-term trend: the impact of climate change in creating more volatile climate patterns.