Thursday, May 23, 2013

NOAA says prepare for active hurricane season

Federal forecasters are predicting yet another busy hurricane season. People living along the Gulf coast should consider themselves warned -- officially.

If you live in hurricane prone areas along the Atlantic Ocean or Gulf of Mexico coasts, "This is your warning," acting NOAA administrator Kathryn Sullivan said.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said there is a 70 percent chance that this year will be more active than an average hurricane season.

The NOAA forecast agrees with the prediction issued earlier this spring by experts at Colorado State University. 

Thursday's outlook by the NOAA calls for 13 to 20 named storms, 7 to 11 that strengthen into hurricanes and 3 to 6 that become major hurricanes.

Last year was the third-busiest on record with 19 named storms. Ten became hurricanes and were two major storms, with winds over 111 mph.

That included Sandy, which caused $50 billion in damage even though it lost hurricane status when it made landfall in New Jersey, the Associated Press reported.

The last time a major hurricane made landfall in the United States was Wilma in 2005. The seven year U.S. landfall drought is the longest on record.

 All the factors that go into hurricane forecasts are pointing to an active season, or extremely active one, said lead forecaster Gerry Bell of the Climate Prediction Center.

Those factors include: warmer than average ocean waters that provide fuel for storms, a pattern of increased hurricane activity, the lack of an El Nino warming of the central Pacific Ocean, and an active pattern of storm systems coming off west Africa.

The six-month season starts a week from Saturday, June 1.

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