Two unofficial early-bird predictions call for an unusually active 2011 hurricane season - but don't try to take these forecasts to the bank. They might be better this year than Punxsutawney Phil, who totally blew his prediction for an early spring, but still, a lot of meteorologists think the April forecasts are putting hard numbers on some pretty squishy science.
For the record, the Colorado State University team of William M. Gray and Philip J. Klotzbach predicts nine Atlantic Basin hurricanes, including five major hurricanes, and a 72 percent chance that at least one of the big ones will strike somewhere along the U.S. coastline sometime between June 1 and the end of November.
Accuweather.com, of State College, Penn., calls for eight hurricanes, including three big ones, and pinpoints three "higher concern areas" for a hurricane strike - the Gulf coasts of Texas and Louisiana, the Florida Peninsula, and the Carolinas.
These predictions look a lot like last year's season, which saw a record 19 "named" tropical storms, including 12 hurricanes and five major hurricanes. Last April, the Colorado State team saw a 69 percent chance of a big one making landfall along the U.S. coast. But, of course, none did - a circumstance which left a lot of people wondering what all the fuss was about.