Monday, November 8, 1999 Published at 11:09 GMT
Scientists predict storms beyond the horizon
The US hurricane damage bill averages $3.5 billion per year
A team of British scientists has produced the longest range forecast for US hurricanes yet developed - predicting four powerful storms in 2000.
Using advanced statistical methods and historical climate data going back to 1950, the team from University College London predicts one hurricane and three tropical storms will strike the US between June and November next year.
Their forecast of four tropical storms, two hurricanes and one intense hurricane reaching US landfall agrees well with actual landfalling totals to date - five tropical storms, three hurricanes and one intense hurricane.
News of the forecast comes as millions struggle to cope with the aftermath of a massive cyclone which tore through eastern India.
Cost of disaster
The predictions could help reduce the human and financial cost of violent storms.
America spends $3.5 billion on hurricane damage in an average year - the devastating winds are the country's costliest natural disasters.
Mike Cooper, Tsunami board representative for the CGU Group, said: "The insurance industry has operated for many years with only limited data on the hazards that drive its claims experience.
"This is our first attempt to take leading-edge science and tailor it to meet our competitive needs. We are delighted with the progress so far."
When hurricanes occur in other parts of the world they are called typhoons or cyclones.
Dr Saunders' team plans to issue the first ever long range forecasts for typhoons striking Japan, Taiwan and other north-west Pacific countries in early January, 2000.
Predictions for cyclones hitting Queensland, Australia, will be issued on April 1, 2000.