Friday, May 25, 2007
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NOAA predicts above-normal Atlantic hurricane season           Send a link to a friend

13 to 17 named storms predicted

[May 25, 2007]  WASHINGTON -- Experts at the NOAA Climate Prediction Center are projecting a 75 percent chance that the Atlantic hurricane season will be above normal this year -- showing the ongoing active hurricane era remains strong. With the start of the hurricane season upon us, NOAA recommends those in hurricane-prone regions to begin their preparation plans.

"For the 2007 Atlantic hurricane season, NOAA scientists predict 13 to 17 named storms, with seven to 10 becoming hurricanes, of which three to five could become major hurricanes of Category 3 strength or higher," said retired Navy Vice Adm. Conrad C. Lautenbacher, Ph.D., undersecretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere and NOAA administrator. An average Atlantic hurricane season brings 11 named storms, with six becoming hurricanes, including two major hurricanes.

Climate patterns responsible for the expected above-normal hurricane activity continue to be the ongoing multi-decadal signal (the set of ocean and atmospheric conditions that spawn increased Atlantic hurricane activity), warmer-than-normal sea surface temperatures in the Atlantic Ocean, and the El Nino-La Nina cycle.

Last year, seasonal hurricane predictions proved to be too high when an unexpected El Nino rapidly developed and created a hostile environment for Atlantic storms to form and strengthen. When storms did develop, steering currents kept most of them over the open water and away from land.

"There is some uncertainty this year as to whether or not La Nina will form, and if it does, how strong it will be," said Gerry Bell, Ph.D., lead seasonal hurricane forecaster at NOAA's Climate Prediction Center. "The Climate Prediction Center is indicating that La Nina could form in the next one to three months. If La Nina develops, storm activity will likely be in the upper end of the predicted range, or perhaps even higher depending on how strong La Nina becomes. Even if La Nina does not develop, the conditions associated with the ongoing active hurricane era still favor an above-normal season."

Bell also noted that preseason storms, such as Subtropical Storm Andrea in early May, are not an indicator of the hurricane season ahead. "With or without Andrea, NOAA's forecast is for an above-normal season."

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"With expectations for an active season, it is critically important that people who live in East and Gulf coastal areas as well as the Caribbean be prepared," said Bill Proenza, National Hurricane Center director. "Now is the time to update your hurricane plan, not when the storm is bearing down on you."

The Atlantic hurricane season runs from June 1 through Nov. 30, with peak activity occurring August through October. NOAA's Climate Prediction Center will issue an updated seasonal forecast in August, just prior to the historical peak of the season.

The Atlantic Hurricane Seasonal Outlook is an official forecast product of the NOAA Climate Prediction Center. Instituted in 1998, this outlook is produced in collaboration with NOAA scientists at the Climate Prediction Center, National Hurricane Center, Hurricane Research Division and the Hydrometeorological Prediction Center. The National Hurricane Center has hurricane forecasting responsibilities for the Atlantic as well as the East Pacific basins. The Climate Prediction Center, National Hurricane Center and Hydrometeorological Prediction Center are three of the National Weather Service's nine National Centers for Environmental Prediction, which provide the United States with first alerts of weather, climate, ocean and space weather events.

NOAA is dedicated to enhancing economic security and national safety through the prediction and research of weather and climate-related events, information service delivery for transportation, and by providing environmental stewardship of the nation's coastal and marine resources. Through the emerging Global Earth Observation System of Systems, NOAA is working with its federal partners, more than 60 countries and the European Commission to develop a global monitoring network that is as integrated as the planet it observes, predicts and protects.

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[Text from National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration news release]

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