St. Kitts and Nevis and other Caribbean countries can expect an above-average 2010 Atlantic hurricane with a 58 percent chance of a major hurricane affecting the region, respected United States forecasters have said. The team from Colorado State University is predicting as many as eight hurricanes, four of which will become major weather systems with winds in excess of 111 miles per hour, to form over the Atlantic Ocean during the June 1 to November 30 hurricane season. In all, it said that there would be up to 15 named storms. CMC reports, the lead forecaster on the university’s hurricane forecast team, Dr. Phil Klotzbach, as saying that the prediction was based on the premise that El Nino conditions continue until the summer. “We expect current moderate El Nino conditions to transition to neutral conditions By this year’s hurricane season,” Dr. Klotzbach said in a statement. “The dissipating El Nino, along with the expected anomalously warm Atlantic ocean sea surface temperatures, will lead to favourable dynamic and thermodynamic conditions for hurricane formation and intensification,” he added. The team predicts tropical cyclone activity in 2010 will be 160 percent of the average season. By comparison, 2009 witnessed tropical cyclone activity that was about 70 percent of the average season. The 2010 forecast marks 27 years of hurricane forecasting at Colorado State, led By Dr. William Gray. The hurricane forecast team said it makes its predictions based on 58 years of historical data. “While patterns may change before the start of hurricane season, we believe current conditions warrant concern for an above-average season,” Dr. Gray said. Long-term averages are 9.6 named storms, 5.9 hurricanes and 2.3 major hurricanes per year, the team said. The Colorado State University team said it will issue forecast updates on June 2 and August 4. Head of the OECS Secretariat’s Environmental and Sustainable Development Unit based in St. Lucia Mr. Keith Nichols, said, “Every country has to take responsibility. Then again the disaster preparedness offices, the NEMOS or the equivalent in other countries need to advance the preparations and get the various disaster committees in place and working to reduce risk around our properties [and] our communities,” he said. Mr. Nichols said the expectation of an above average hurricane season was never comforting news to the region given its history over the last three decades with hurricanes. “The hurricane season which starts officially starts on June 1st is just around the corner. If we are expecting an above average hurricane season, there is always a potential that we will be hit By a hurricane. “We can’t always feel that we have been hit a touch in the last few years, so we will escape this time. We are never sure of that and we always need to be prepared. We need to be very, very vigilant and to remove the threats around our properties,” he said. Mr. Nichols said the OECS Secretariat had been involved in an ongoing risk reduction programme in the region and had been pursuing options at building resilience to hurricanes or to disasters overall but moreso hurricanes. “We of course have tremendous experience of lost buildings in this Federation and other countries which suffer loss of life, property in recent times and we need to be on our guard. “There is a lot of talk about retrofitting houses, buildings putting in hurricane roof straps to keep roofs in place. We need to be vigilant [and] to ensure that our properties are clear of potential threats and hazards. Trees are also a potential threat, limbs and lose material around,” he said. Minister responsible for the Environment on Nevis Hon. Carlisle Powell said Nevis could ill afford the effects of a hurricane. “Nevis certainly can’t afford to be hit By a hurricane. We have suffered enough recently By hurricanes and we are hopeful that even though we imagine and we expect that we will get an above average hurricane season, we are hopeful that the Professor Grays are wrong this time around and that we are spared any direct hit By a hurricane,” he said. However, the Minister noted that he remained very optimistic but reiterated the need for Nevisians to prepared early rather than wait for the last moment to make sure that secured their property. “We still ask people to know that there is a hurricane season which is approaching, while we hope for the best prepare for the worst,” he said.