May 19, 2011

NOAA Predicts Above Normal Hurricane Season

According to the seasonal outlook issued by National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration's Climate Prediction Center, the Atlantic basin is expected to see an above-normal hurricane season this year.

NOAA is predicting that there will be 12 to 18 named storms during the six-month season.  It said 6 to 10 of those storms could become hurricanes, and 3 to 6 of those hurricanes could become major hurricanes with winds of 111mph or higher.

"The United States was fortunate last year. Winds steered most of the season's tropical storms and all hurricanes away from our coastlines," Jane Lubchenco, Ph.D., under secretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere and NOAA administrator, said in a statement

"However we can't count on luck to get us through this season. We need to be prepared, especially with this above-normal outlook."

NOAA said that sea surface temperatures in the Atlantic Ocean are two degrees Fahrenheit warmer than average, which has helped lead to its prediction for this year's season.

"In addition to multiple climate factors, seasonal climate models also indicate an above-normal season is likely, and even suggest we could see activity comparable to some of the active seasons since 1995," Gerry Bell, Ph.D., lead seasonal hurricane forecaster at NOAA's Climate Prediction Center, said in a statement.

NOAA's National Hurricane Center forecasts how weather patterns affect the storm track, intensity and landfall potential.

"The tornadoes that devastated the South and the large amount of flooding we've seen this spring should serve as a reminder that disasters can happen anytime and anywhere," FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate said in a statement.  "As we move into this hurricane season it's important to remember that FEMA is just part of an emergency management team that includes the entire federal family, state, local and tribal governments, the private sector and most importantly the public.

"Now is the time, if you haven't already, to get your plan together for what you and your family would do if disaster strikes. Visit ready.gov to learn more. And if you're a small business owner, visit http://www.ready.gov/business to ensure that your business is prepared for a disaster," added Fugate.

Next week is national Hurricane Preparedness Week.  NOAA will unveil a new set of video and audio public service announcements featuring its hurricane experts and the FEMA administrator.


Image Caption: Hurricanes Karl, Igor and Julia (from left to right on Sept. 16) were part of the onslaught of Atlantic storms last hurricane season (2010). Credit: NOAA


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