Hurricane forecast: Busy
NOAA expects above-average, 18 named storms
The upcoming hurricane season looks to be another busy one with the National
Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announcing Thursday morning there could
be up to 18 named storms this summer and fall. NOAA's Climate Prediction Center
forecasts 12 to 18 named storms, and six to 10 could become hurricanes with
winds of 74 mph or more. Of those hurricanes, the forecast expects three to
six to be major storms of 111 mph or more. The seasonal average is 11 named
storms: six hurricanes and two major hurricanes, according to NOAA. The Atlantic
hurricane season runs June 1 through Nov. 30.
Jane Lubchenco, undersecretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere
and NOAA administrator, said the United States was lucky in 2010 with
no hurricanes making landfall.
"However, we can't count on luck to get us through this season. We
need to be prepared, especially with this above-normal outlook," she
said at a news conference.
Reasons for the above-average forecast include being in a high
activity era that started in 1995 when ocean and atmosphere conditions
combined to aid in formation of hurricanes.
In addition, Atlantic Ocean sea surface temperatures are warmer than
normal — about 2 degrees Fahrenheit higher, Lubchenco said. That's not
as warm as last year — when sea surface temperatures were 4 degrees
above normal — but still warm enough to fuel hurricanes, she said.
A third reason includes the continuing presence of a La Niņa weather
pattern, which reduces the wind shear that sometimes slows or even
caps hurricane formation, she said.
However, the current La Niņa condition is fading and is expected to be
gone by June, but the impacts such as reduced wind shear will continue
into the hurricane season, she said.
Last hurricane season tied for third as the most-active storm season
since official record keeping began in 1851.
In all, there were 19 named storms, 12 of which were hurricanes. Five
of those became major hurricanes with category 3 to category 5 wind
Although there were no hurricanes that made landfall in the U.S.,
there were two tropical storms — Bonnie near Miami and Hermine near
The 2010 season tied with 1995 and 1887 as the third most-active
seasons, said Barry Keim, state climatologist. The second most-active
season was in 1933, with 21 storms, and the most active was 2005 with
28 named storms, including historical storms Katrina and Rita, he
Craig Fugate, administrator of the Federal Emergency Management
Agency, urged people to prepare regardless of the forecast.
"Of all the hazards we deal with, hurricanes should be the least
surprising," he said, adding that people who live in coastal areas
should know that they are at risk and prepare.
Recommendations for how to prepare can be found at
http://www.ready.gov, or at the state level at
http://www.getagameplan.org, or in Baton Rouge at
By AMY WOLD
Advocate staff writer