2006: Expect another big hurricane year says NOAA
2006: Expect another big hurricane year says NOAA
May 22, 2006
The 2006 hurricane season in the north Atlantic region is likely to again be very active, although less so than 2005 when a record-setting 15 hurricanes occured, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
“For the 2006 north Atlantic hurricane season, NOAA is predicting 13 to 16 named storms, with eight to 10 becoming hurricanes, of which four to six could become ‘major’ hurricanes of Category 3 strength or higher,” said retired Navy Vice Adm. Conrad C. Lautenbacher, Ph.D., undersecretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere and NOAA administrator.
On average, NOAA says the north Atlantic hurricane season produces 11 named storms, of which six become hurricanes, including two major hurricanes. In 2005, the Atlantic hurricane season contained a record 28 storms, including 15 hurricanes. Seven of these hurricanes were considered “major,” of which a record four hit the United States.
“Although NOAA is not forecasting a repeat of last year’s season, the potential for hurricanes striking the U.S. is high,” added Lautenbacher.
The warning from NOAA comes after a slew of studies have indicated that climate change could increase the frequency and intensity of powerful storms.
Last year, two earlier studies published in the journals Nature and Science found a strong correlation between rising tropical sea surface temperatures and an increase in the strength of hurricanes.
Satellite image for larger view of Hurricane Katrina taken Aug. 28, 2005, at 11:45 a.m. EDT as the storm raged as a Category 5 storm in the Gulf of Mexico, a day before it slammed into the Gulf Coast. Photo courtesy of NOAA.
Global warming causing stronger hurricanes confirms study: The link between warmer ocean temperatures and increasing intensity of hurricanes has been confirmed by scientists at the Georgia Institute of Technology. Last year, two studies published in the journals Nature and Science found a strong correlation between rising tropical sea surface temperatures and an increase in the strength of hurricanes.
The Nature study, published in July 2005 by Kerry Emanuel, an atmospheric scientist at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, found that hurricanes in the north Atlantic and the north Pacific Oceans have grown significantly more powerful and destructive over the past three decades. Emanuel reported that “both the duration of the storms and their maximum wind speeds have increased by about 50 per cent since the mid-1970s”, developments that are mirrored by increases in the average temperatures at the surface of the tropical oceans. At the time of publication, Emanuel warned that global climate change might increase the effect of hurricanes still further in coming years.
In September, following the destruction wrought by Hurricane Katrina, Science published study by researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology and the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) indicating that the number of Category 4 and 5 hurricanes worldwide has nearly doubled over the past 35 years, from about 10 Category 4 and 5 hurricanes per year in the 1970s to 18 per year since 1990.
In March, researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology confirmed these findings. Writing in Science Express, the latest study “sought to determine whether factors other than sea surface temperatures could be significantly contributing to this 35-year trend.” The team looked at three other factors — changes in wind speed and direction with height, known as vertical wind shear; humidity in the lower atmosphere; and the tendency of the winds to rotate in a cyclonic direction, called zonal stretching deformation — and found that sea surface temperatures were the most significant influence on the increase in both global hurricane intensity as well as the intensity of the North Atlantic hurricanes.
“With this new paper, we firm up the link between the increase in sea surface temperatures and hurricane intensity, which has been a key issue in the debate about whether global warming is causing an increase in hurricane intensity,” said Curry, professor and chair of the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at Georgia Tech.
In another study, published earlier this month, scientists at the NOAA Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory in Princeton, N.J. said that “the region of the tropical Atlantic where many hurricanes originate has warmed by several tenths of a degree Celsius over the 20th century” and warned that “human activity, such as increasing greenhouse gas emissions into the atmosphere, may contribute significantly to this warming.”
NOAA PREDICTS VERY ACTIVE 2006 NORTH ATLANTIC HURRICANE SEASON – NOAA release
NOAA today announced to America and its neighbors throughout the north Atlantic region that a very active hurricane season is looming, and encouraged individuals to make preparations to better protect their lives and livelihoods. May 21-27 is National Hurricane Preparedness Week.
During a news conference at the NOAA National Hurricane Center, Deputy Secretary of Commerce David A. Sampson noted, “Preparation is the key message that President Bush wants to convey during National Hurricane Preparedness Week. The impact from these storms extends well beyond coastal areas so it is vital that residents in hurricane prone areas get ready in advance of the hurricane season.”
“For the 2006 north Atlantic hurricane season, NOAA is predicting 13 to 16 named storms, with eight to 10 becoming hurricanes, of which four to six could become ‘major’ hurricanes of Category 3 strength or higher,” added retired Navy Vice Adm. Conrad C. Lautenbacher, Ph.D., undersecretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere and NOAA administrator.
On average, the north Atlantic hurricane season produces 11 named storms, with six becoming hurricanes, including two major hurricanes. In 2005, the Atlantic hurricane season contained a record 28 storms, including 15 hurricanes. Seven of these hurricanes were considered “major,” of which a record four hit the United States. “Although NOAA is not forecasting a repeat of last year’s season, the potential for hurricanes striking the U.S. is high,” added Lautenbacher.
Warmer ocean water combined with lower wind shear, weaker easterly trade winds, and a more favorable wind pattern in the mid-levels of the atmosphere are the factors that collectively will favor the development of storms in greater numbers and to greater intensity. Warm water is the energy source for storms while favorable wind patterns limit the wind shear that can tear apart a storm’s building cloud structure.
This confluence of conditions in the ocean and atmosphere is strongly related to a climate pattern known as the multi-decadal signal, which has been in place since 1995. Since then, nine of the last 11 hurricane seasons have been above normal, with only two below-normal seasons during the El Niño years of 1997 and 2002.
With neutral El Niño/Southern Oscillation (ENSO) conditions expected across the equatorial Pacific during the next three to six months, the NOAA Climate Prediction Center scientists say that neither El Niño nor La Niña likely will be a factor in this year’s hurricane season.
“Whether we face an active hurricane season, like this year, or a below-normal season, the crucial message for every person is the same: prepare, prepare, prepare,” said Max Mayfield, director of the NOAA National Hurricane Center. “One hurricane hitting where you live is enough to make it a bad season.”
The north Atlantic hurricane season runs from June 1 through November 30. NOAA will issue a mid-season update in early August just prior to the normal August through October peak in activity.
The north Atlantic hurricane seasonal outlook is a product of NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center, National Hurricane Center and Hurricane Research Division. The NOAA National Hurricane Center has hurricane forecasting responsibilities for the north Atlantic as well as the east Pacific regions.
NOAA, an agency of the U.S. Department of Commerce, is dedicated to enhancing economic security and national safety through the prediction and research of weather and climate-related events and providing environmental stewardship of the nation’s coastal and marine resources.
Through the emerging Global Earth Observation System of Systems (GEOSS), NOAA is working with its federal partners, 61 countries and the European Commission to develop a global network that is as integrated as the planet it observes, predicts and protects.
This article contains a modified news release from the NOAA National Hurricane Center.