STATE COLLEGE, Pa. — Florida and sections of the Eastern seaboard are included in the areas of higher concern for a more active 2011 hurricane season, predict AccuWeather.com Hurricane Center meteorologists.
Around 15 total storms are predicted this year, with eight of these becoming hurricanes; three of which will develop into major hurricanes. Meteorologists predict more impact on the U.S. coastline than last year.
As with most Atlantic hurricane seasons, the areas where storms are most likely to make landfall shift as the season progresses.
For example, the main risk area will move from the Gulf Coast to the East Coast, including the Florida peninsula.
"It looks like we're going to have some chances here on the East Coast, particularly the Carolinas down into the Southeast," said Paul Pastelok, expert senior meteorologist and hurricane forecaster. "Mid to late season, we're probably going to see more action on the Southeast coast and particularly Florida."
Another higher concern area during the middle to late part of the season along the East Coast is South Florida.
AccuWeather.com Expert Senior Meteorologist Dan Kottlowski said an area of high pressure over the Atlantic that helps to guide tropical storms may steer more storms to this area.
"[The high pressure] may weaken or actually reposition itself a little bit to the northeast as we get later in the season, which would allow more of a storm track closer to Florida and also up the East Coast," he said. "What we see is a clustering of storm impacts over the southeastern U.S., and that's the reason why we earmarked this as a concerned area."
As for the coastline from the Carolinas to southern New England, Kottlowski said there isn't much of a chance for a storm to hit this year.
"September and August, which bode higher chances for impact on the Northeast coast, we don't see the pattern setting up that would favor a large number of storms moving up the East Coast," he said. "We see more impact over the Southeast coast than anything else."
However, during a given year, early season storms can hit anywhere.
"In many of these years that we look at climatologically, you can have one or two early season tropical cyclones almost anywhere in the basin," Kottlowski said.
The East Coast from New England north to the Canadian Maritimes is also at risk for tropical activity as the season progresses and ocean temperatures increase, though Kottlowski said water temperatures are not as warm as they were last year. Warm ocean water helps tropical storms to develop.
"I think as we get later into the season ... those water temperatures will come up. We do have a chance at seeing an impact in the mid-Atlantic states to New England," Pastelok said.
Tropical storms had a minimal impact on the U.S. coastline last year, but northern New England and Canada were affected by Hurricane Earl and Hurricane Igor. Igor was retired as a tropical cyclone name in March.
Hurricane season officially begins June 1 and ends Nov. 30.