WASHINGTON, DC, May 28, 2013 (ENS) – The United States should prepare for an “active or extremely active hurricane season” this year, NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center says in its 2013 Atlantic hurricane season outlook issued for National Hurricane Preparedness Week.
For the six-month hurricane season, which begins June 1, NOAA’s Atlantic Hurricane Season Outlook says there is a 70 percent likelihood of 13 to 20 named storms with winds of 39 mph or higher.
Of these storms, seven to 11 could become hurricanes with winds of 74 mph or higher. Three to six are forecast to become major hurricanes of Category 3, 4 or 5 with winds of 111 mph or higher.
These ranges are well above the seasonal average of 12 named storms, six hurricanes and three major hurricanes.
“With the devastation of Sandy fresh in our minds, and another active season predicted, everyone at NOAA is committed to providing life-saving forecasts in the face of these storms and ensuring that Americans are prepared and ready ahead of time.” said NOAA Acting Administrator Kathryn Sullivan, PhD.
“As we saw first-hand with Sandy, it’s important to remember that tropical storm and hurricane impacts are not limited to the coastline. Strong winds, torrential rain, flooding, and tornadoes often threaten inland areas far from where the storm first makes landfall,” warned Sullivan.
Three climate factors that control Atlantic hurricane activity are expected to come together to produce an active or extremely active 2013 hurricane season.
The current atmospheric climate pattern, which includes a strong west African monsoon, that is responsible for the ongoing era of high activity for Atlantic hurricanes that began in 1995 is expected to continue.
Forecasters predict continued warmer-than-average water temperatures in the tropical Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean Sea, and the Eastern Tropical Pacific warming trend known as El Niño is not expected to develop and suppress Atlantic hurricane formation.
“This year, oceanic and atmospheric conditions in the Atlantic basin are expected to produce more and stronger hurricanes,” said Gerry Bell, PhD, lead seasonal hurricane forecaster with NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center. “These conditions include weaker wind shear, warmer Atlantic waters and conducive winds patterns coming from Africa.”
NOAA’s seasonal hurricane outlook is not a hurricane landfall forecast; it does not predict how many storms will hit land or where a storm will strike.
Forecasts for individual storms and their impacts will be provided throughout the season by NOAA’s National Hurricane Center.
New for this hurricane season are improvements to forecast models, data gathering, and the National Hurricane Center communication procedure for post-tropical cyclones.
In July, NOAA plans to bring a new supercomputer online that will run an upgraded Hurricane Weather Research and Forecasting model for an enhanced depiction of storm structure and improved storm intensity forecast guidance.
Also this year, Doppler radar data will be transmitted in real time from NOAA’s Hurricane Hunter aircraft. This will help forecasters better analyze rapidly evolving storm conditions, and these data could further improve the hurricane model forecasts by 10 to 15 percent.
The National Weather Service also has made changes to allow for hurricane warnings to remain in effect, or to be newly issued, for storms like Sandy that have become post-tropical. This flexibility allows forecasters to provide a continuous flow of forecast and warning information for evolving or continuing threats.
“The start of hurricane season is a reminder that our families, businesses and communities need to be ready for the next big storm,” said Joe Nimmich, associate administrator for response and recovery with the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
“Preparedness today can make a big difference down the line, so update your family emergency plan and make sure your emergency kit is stocked,” urged Nimmich. “Learn more about how you can prepare for hurricane season at www.ready.gov/hurricanes.”
To help those living in hurricane-prone areas prepare, NOAA is offering hurricane preparedness tips, along with video and audio public service announcements in both English and Spanish, featuring NOAA hurricane experts and FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate at www.nhc.noaa.gov/prepare/.
NOAA’s outlook for the Eastern Pacific basin is for a below-normal hurricane season and the Central Pacific basin is also expected to have a below-normal season.
NOAA will issue an updated outlook for the Atlantic hurricane season in early August, just before the historical peak of the season.