GOES satellite animation of Hurricane Katrina (August 2005)From NOAA
An “active to extremely active” hurricane season is expected for the Atlantic Basin this year according to the seasonal outlook issued Thursday 27th by NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center – a division of the National Weather Service.
As with every hurricane season, this outlook underscores the importance of having a hurricane preparedness plan in place.
Across the entire Atlantic Basin for the six-month season, which begins June 1, NOAA is projecting a 70 percent probability of the following ranges:
- 14 to 23 Named Storms (top winds of 39 mph or higher), including:
- 8 to 14 Hurricanes (top winds of 74 mph or higher), of which:
- 3 to 7 could be Major Hurricanes (Category 3, 4 or 5; winds of at least 111 mph)
The outlook ranges exceed the seasonal average of 11 named storms, six hurricanes and two major hurricanes.
Expected factors supporting this outlook are:
- Upper atmospheric winds conducive for storms : Wind shear, which can tear apart storms, will be weaker since El Niño in the eastern Pacific has dissipated. Strong wind shear helped suppress storm development during the 2009 hurricane season. (see NOAA)
- Warm Atlantic Ocean water : Sea surface temperatures are expected to remain above average where storms often develop and move across the Atlantic. Record warm temperatures – up to four degrees Fahrenheit above average – are now present in this region.
“The main uncertainty in this outlook is how much above normal the season will be. Whether or not we approach the high end of the predicted ranges depends partly on whether or not La Niña develops this summer,” said Gerry Bell, Ph.D., lead seasonal hurricane forecaster at NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center. “At present we are in a neutral state, but conditions are becoming increasingly favorable for La Niña to develop.”
"FEMA is working across the administration and with our state and local partners to ensure we're prepared for hurricane season," said FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate. "But we can only be as prepared as the public, so it's important that families and businesses in coastal communities take steps now to be ready. These include developing a communications plan, putting together a kit, and staying informed of the latest forecasts and local emergency plans. You can't control when a hurricane or other emergency may happen, but you can make sure you're ready."
The president recently designated May 23-29, 2010, as National Hurricane Preparedness Week. NOAA and FEMA encourage those living in hurricane-prone states to use this time to review their overall preparedness.
More information on individual and family preparedness can be found at www.ready.gov and www.hurricanes.gov/prepare.
NOAA scientists will continue to monitor evolving conditions in the tropics and will issue an updated hurricane outlook in early August, just prior to what is historically the peak period for hurricane activity.
This also means that they could even halt BP's efforts to stem the Gulf of Mexico oil leak.
"If we have a severe storm... my biggest concern is storm surge. Pushing oil up on land even further, up on beach areas in Mississippi, possibly Alabama," said meteorologist Aaron Studwell.
Such a surge would damage beaches and further inundate marshes that authorities are currently straining to protect from the oil leak.
He added that even if BP were to halt further leaking immediately, enough oil is in the sea already to cause an environmental disaster.
- National Hurricane Center providing detailed location and forecasting of tropical storms and hurricanes
- Tropical cyclone heat potential
- NOAA CSC : historial hurricane tracks
- NASA : Sea Surface Temperatures at the start of 2010 Hurricane season
- CNN : Hurricane plus oil equals more problems
- DailyScience : Undersea forces from hurricanes may threaten Gulf pipelines