NOAA Says Atlantic Hurricane Activity To Be Close To 2010

Posted by on May 30, 2011 | 0 comments

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s storm prediction exceeds other forecasters for the Atlantic hurricane season, just weeks away.

NOAA says it expects 12-18 named storms. Of those, 6-10 are expected to become hurricanes with winds in excess of 74 mph, and 3-6 are predicted to become major hurricanes, category 3, 4 or 5 with sustained winds of at least 111 mph.

During a news conference, Jane Lubchenco, undersecretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere and NOAA administrator, explains that the hurricane weather pattern continues to be in a very active era that dates back to 1995.

She says other contributing factors for increased hurricane activity are:

• Above-normal ocean temperatures for this hurricane season, which begins June 1.

• La Niña conditions in the Pacific are expected to weaken, but still continue to reduce wind shear, which is an atmospheric event that can break-up or reduce the intensity of hurricanes.

She emphasizes that the prediction does not cover land fall or timing of the storms because it is not possible to do so now with any precision.

NOAA’s prediction comes out to one less storm than the 19 that developed last year, which Lubchenco notes was a spot on prediction for NOAA. She adds that it is unlikely hurricane activity will reach that number this year.

While no hurricanes made land fall on U.S. shores, she cautions that “We can’t depend on the same this year and need to be prepared,” adding that it only takes one storm to cause devastation. 

NOAA’s prediction is the highest for this season, exceeding three other weather service predictions issued for the season.

 The forecasting team at Colorado State University predicts 16 named storms, nine hurricanes and five intense storms.

If there is one thing the predictions fail to do it is to raise awareness among people who could be in the path of these storms says Craig Fugate, administrator for the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

“Far too many people will not be prepared and will try to get ready in the last minutes when the hurricanes threaten their community and won’t have enough time [to evacuate],” says Fugate.

With all the advanced warnings and data, people should not be surprised when a hurricane strikes, and criticized those who refuse to prepare in advance because it has been decades since a serious storm struck.

“All forecasts cannot change the outcome,” notes Fugate. “Even with a perfect forecast, it does not prevent devastation.”

In response to a question about satellites ability to continue to provide necessary data, Lubchenco says there is a danger that NOAA could lose some very effective satellite tools if Congress fails to provide proper funding to replace aging vehicles.

“This is a matter of public safety and national significance,” Lubchenco says. “We hope to get funding so we can get this program back on track.”

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