Weather watchers say they have already predicted the intensity of this year’s Atlantic hurricane season.

The New Year celebrations might still ringing in your ears, but weather experts say it is not too early to think about this year’s Atlantic hurricanes.

WSI Corporation says 2009 will be almost as active as 2008, based on sea temperatures and other weather phenomena.

In its first look at the coming year's Atlantic tropical season, WSI calls for 13 named storms, 7 hurricanes, and 3 intense hurricanes at category 3 or greater.

The forecast is very similar to the prediction the company gave at the same time one year ago.

The 2009 forecast again points to hurricane activity that is greater than the 1950-2008 average of 9.8 named storms, 6.0 hurricanes and 2.5 intense hurricanes.

WSI said its 2008 forecast had been “very successful”. The December 2007 preseason forecast values of 14 named storms, 7 hurricanes, and 3 intense hurricanes were slightly smaller than the final observed values of 15/8/5. The subsequent updates improved the forecast further – the April updated forecast values of 14 named storms, 8 hurricanes, and 4 intense hurricanes were almost perfect.

The expectations for an active 2009 season arise from (1) the expected continuation of warmer-than-normal Atlantic Ocean temperature anomalies into next summer and Autumn and (2) the likelihood of a favourable or neutral wind shear environment associated with the lack of an El Nino event.

According to WSI seasonal forecaster Dr Todd Crawford, "Since 1995, most tropical seasons have been more active than the long-term averages, due to warmer Atlantic Ocean temperatures. We do not see any reason why this active regime will not continue in 2009. It should be noted that the Atlantic temperatures are cooler than last year, however, and we currently do not expect 2009 to be quite as active as 2008."

WSI says its seasonal forecast will be of particular interest to energy traders, for whom the company has been providing weather insights since 2000. The next full seasonal forecast package, which will include forecasts for late winter temperatures in both the US and Europe, will be issued to clients on January 13 and to the press on January 20. The next update on the 2009 tropical season will be issued to clients on April 14 and to the press on April 22.