By Lise Alves, Contributing Reporter
MIAMI BEACH, FLORIDA – Residents living in the southeastern part of the United States should brace for a worse-than-usual hurricane season this year, says the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
“El Nino typically suppresses Atlantic hurricane activity but now that it’s gone, we could see a busier season ahead,” said Gerry Bell, Ph.D., one of NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center hurricane forecasters.
“This evolution, combined with the more conducive conditions associated with the ongoing high-activity era for Atlantic hurricanes that began in 1995, increases the likelihood of above-normal activity this year,” added Bell in a press release in early August.
NOAA hurricane forecasters have increased the likelihood of an above-normal Atlantic hurricane season to 45 percent. In May, the likelihood of an above-normal season was of thirty percent. The likelihood of near-normal activity is 35 percent, and the chance of below-normal activity is only ternty percent.
The number of predicted storms is also greater. NOAA now expects anywhere from 10 to 17 named storms (winds of 39 mph or greater), of which 5 to 9 will become hurricanes (winds of 74 mph or greater), including two to four major hurricanes (winds of 111 mph or greater). Two strong storms have formed so far this year, Andrea and Barry.
The U.S. Atlantic hurricane season usually runs August through November.
On average, the Atlantic hurricane season produces twelve named storms, of which six become hurricanes, including three major hurricanes. NOAA’s forecast is for an overall seasonal activity, not a landfall forecast.
Landfalls are largely determined by short-term weather patterns, and only predictable within about a week of a storm potentially reaching a coastline.
“[The] updated outlook is a reminder to be prepared,” said Pete Gaynor, acting FEMA [Federal Emergency Management Agency] administrator, at the beginning of August.
“We urge everyone to learn more about hurricane hazards and prepare now, ahead of time, so that if state and local authorities announce evacuations in advance of a storm, you and your family will have planned where to go and what to do to stay safe,” added Gaynor.