Stormier Atlantic Hurricane Season Now Predicted

CAMP SPRINGS, Maryland, August 4, 2011 (ENS) – At least seven Atlantic hurricanes are expected during this hurricane season, the national Climate Prediction Center said today, raising its forecast by one from the pre-season outlook issued in May.

Forecasters said they expect seven to 10 hurricanes with top winds of 74 mph or higher across the entire Atlantic Basin before the season closes at the end of November.

Tropical Storm Emily approaches the Domincan Republic, August 3, 2011 (Image courtesy NWS)

They predicted that three to five of the storms could be major hurricanes – Category 3, 4 or 5 packing winds of at least 111 miles per hour.

All this season’s hurricanes are likely to be more intense than average, said forecasters at the Climate Prediction Center, a division of the National Weather Service.

They also increased the expected number of named storms to 14-19 from the 12-18 predicted in May. These storms carry top winds of 39 mph or higher.

“The atmosphere and Atlantic Ocean are primed for high hurricane activity during August through October,” said Gerry Bell, PhD, lead seasonal hurricane forecaster at the Climate Prediction Center.

“Storms through October will form more frequently and become more intense than we’ve seen so far this season,” he said.

These predictions are made with with a 70 percent probability, said the Climate Prediction Center.

These ranges indicate an active season, and extend beyond the long-term seasonal averages of 11 named storms, six hurricanes and two major hurricanes.

Key climate factors predicted in May continue to support an active season.

  • the tropical multi-decadal signal, which since 1995 has brought ocean and atmospheric conditions that favor hurricane formation
  • exceptionally warm Atlantic Ocean temperatures – the third warmest on record
  • the possible redevelopment of La NiƱa, a cool water pattern in the Eastern Tropical Pacific Ocean
  • reduced vertical wind shear and lower air pressure across the tropical Atlantic

Bell said that forecasters’ confidence for an above-normal season has increased from 65 percent in May to 85 percent based on these conditions and on climate model forecasts.

The Atlantic basin has already produced five tropical storms this season: Arlene, Bret, Cindy, Don and Emily.

This week meteorologists have been watching Tropical Storm Emily, which dissipated over Cuba this afternoon.

The last hurricane to make landfall in the United States was Ike in 2008. Last year saw above-normal hurricane activity, but none of the storms made landfall in the United States.

August through October are peak months of the Atlantic hurricane season, and the Federal Emergency Management Agency urges people not to be lured into a false sense of security by the lack of hurricanes so far this year.

“It is still early in this hurricane season and we know it can take only one storm to devastate communities and families,” said FEMA Deputy Administrator Rich Serino.

“Many disasters come without warning, but that’s not the case with hurricanes. This is hurricane season, if you haven’t already, now is the time to take a few simple steps to get you and your family prepared,” said Serino. “Anyone can visit www.ready.gov to learn more.”

Be prepared for the hurricane season with information online at hurricanes.gov/prepare and at FEMA’s www.ready.gov.

Copyright Environment News Service (ENS) 2011. All rights reserved.

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