The Atlantic basin could be in for an above-average hurricane season this year with four major hurricanes forecast to develop in the region, according to forecasters at Colorado State University.

The forecast team of William Gray, who has led the forecast team for 27 years, and Phil Klotzbach, lead forecaster on the university hurricane forecast team, released their predictions for the 2010 hurricane season, running June 1 to Nov. 30.

The team predicts 15 named storms will form in the Atlantic. Eight are expected to become hurricanes, and four will develop into major hurricanes — Category 3, 4, or 5 on the Saffir-Simpson scale, with sustained winds of 111 mph or more.

Long-term averages are 9.6 named storms, 5.9 hurricanes and 2.3 major hurricanes per year, the team said.

We expect current moderate El Nino conditions to transition to neutral conditions by this year’s hurricane season," Klotzbach said, in a statement. "The dissipating El Nino, along with the expected anomalously warm Atlantic ocean sea surface temperatures, will lead to favorable dynamic and thermodynamic conditions for hurricane formation and intensification.

Reprinted from National Underwriter, P & C