Say it ain't so
More storms in store? Forecasters raise predictions of number of hurricanes thisseason
After the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) predicted a lighter-than-usual hurricane season in May, the federal weather gurus are changing their minds following a string of storms ranging from Alberto to Ernesto that formed in the Gulf and Atlantic earlier than expected.
While May's predictions called for a slightly below-average year with only nine to 15 named events, NOAA's National Weather Service (NWS) is now expecting at least two more hurricane-sized storms with winds higher that 74 miles per hour. Here's the new tally for the 2012 season, which ends Nov. 30:
- 2 to 17 named storms with top winds exceeding 39 mph
- Of those storms, 5 to 8 could be hurricanes with top winds topping 74 mph
- Of those hurricanes, 2 to 3 could be a category 3, 4 or 5 with winds above 111 mph
CultureMap spoke with Lance Wood of the NWS office for Houston and Galveston to get a better understanding of what brought about the uptick in possible storms.
"When you have a lot of early activity, you tend to see more storms at the end of the season," he explained Thursday morning. "El Nino, which suppresses Atlantic storms, also has something to do with the new numbers. It's forming later this year and is likely to miss the peak of the season in mid-September."
"When you have a lot of early activity, you tend to see more storms at the end of the season," said Lance Wood of the National Weather Service.
Atlantic water temperatures appear to be warmer than previously anticipated as well.
Based on a 30-year average, a typical Atlantic hurricane season produces a total of 12 named storms, including six hurricanes. Three of those hurricanes are category 3 or higher. In other words, we can expect a fairly run-of-the-mill storm season for the rest of the year. Nevertheless, even a seemingly minor tropical storm can wreak havoc, as those who lived through Tropical Storm Allison will recall.
“We have a long way to go until the end of the season, and we shouldn’t let our guard down,” Laura Furgione, acting director of NOAA’s National Weather Service, said in a statement Thursday.
“Hurricanes often bring dangerous inland flooding as we saw a year ago in the Northeast with Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee. Even people who live hundreds of miles from the coast need to remain vigilant through the remainder of the season.”