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Hurricane Season: Feds Predict Above-Average Activity

David McAlpine |
May 19, 2011 | 10:44 a.m. PDT

Executive Producer

(Photo from Creative Commons)
(Photo from Creative Commons)
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration predicted an "above-normal" hurricane season for this upcoming year on Thursday, saying 3 to 6 major hurricanes could form in the Atlantic basin.

The federal forecasting service also predicted that anywhere from 12 to 18 named storms could form in the Atlantic ocean, when a storm reaches winds of 39 miles per hour or higher, and those could produce 6 to 10 hurricanes, when winds reach 74 miles per hour. The seasonal average for the Atlantic Ocean is six hurricanes and 11 named storms.

NOAA officials said they're concerned that an above-average season after several years of below-average activity may have led to complacency on the Gulf coast.

“The United States was fortunate last year. Winds steered most of the season’s tropical storms and all hurricanes away from our coastlines,” said Dr. Jane Lubchenco, a NOAA administrator's assistant. “However we can’t count on luck to get us through this season. We need to be prepared, especially with this above-normal outlook.”

The NOAA releases their oceanic storm forecast yearly in anticipation for hurricane season, which begins June 1. This year, scientists credited a warmer-than-average Atlantic Ocean and a weaking La Niña system to the possibility of more storms. 

The federal forecast falls in line with other predictions by atmospheric scientists at Colorado State University and the AccuWeather weather service. The Colorado State scientists predicted 16 names storms will form this season, while AccuWeather said 15.

The NOAA does not predict how many hurricanes will make landfall, but emergency officials Thursday said it was imperative that those who live in hurricane-prone areas prepare now, especially in light of heavy flooding in the South.

“The tornadoes that devastated the South and the large amount of flooding we’ve seen this spring should serve as a reminder that disasters can happen anytime and anywhere," FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate said. "As we move into this hurricane season it’s important to remember that FEMA is just part of an emergency management team that includes the entire federal family, state, local and tribal governments, the private sector and most importantly the public."

The NOAA is a division of the National Weather Service.



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