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2008 hurricane forecast: storm activity will be above normal

2008 hurricane forecast: storm activity will be above normal

2008 hurricane forecast: storm activity will be above normal
May 22, 2008

The U.S. government’s weather agency predicts an above average Atlantic hurricane season this year.

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Climate Prediction Center forecasts a “60 to 70 percent chance of 12 to 16 named storms, including 6 to 9 hurricanes and 2 to 5 major hurricanes (Category 3, 4 or 5 on the Saffir-Simpson Scale).” An typical season has 11 named storms, including six hurricanes for which two reach major status.

“The outlook is a general guide to the overall seasonal hurricane activity,” said Dr. Conrad C. Lautenbacher, undersecretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere and NOAA administrator. “It does not predict whether, where or when any of these storms may hit land. That is the job of the National Hurricane Center after a storm forms.”

NOAA attributed the above-average outlook to conditions that foster the formation of tropical storms in the Atlantic and the lingering effects of La Niña. The agency relies on an extensive network of satellites, land- and ocean-based sensors and aircraft reconnaissance missions to make it predictions.

This image depicts a 3-day average of actual sea surface temperatures (SSTs) for the Caribbean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean, from August 25-27, 2005. Image Credit: NASA/SVS.

“The main factors influencing this year’s seasonal outlook are the continuing multi-decadal signal (the combination of ocean and atmospheric conditions that have spawned increased hurricane activity since 1995), and the anticipated lingering effects of La Niña,” said Gerry Bell, Ph.D., lead seasonal hurricane forecaster at NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center. “One of the expected oceanic conditions is a continuation since 1995 of warmer-than-normal temperatures in the eastern tropical Atlantic.”

NOAA’s Atlantic hurricane season outlook will be updated on August 7, just prior to what is historically the peak period for hurricane activity. The agency says the first tropical system that reaches tropical storm strength with sustained winds of at least 39 mph will be named Authur. Tropical storms become hurricanes when winds reach 74 mph and major hurricanes when winds reach 111 mph.

NOAA’s hurricane outlook comes shortly after Researchers at Colorado State University released their forecast for 2008: 15 named storms and 8 hurricanes. They say there is a 69 percent chance that at least one major hurricane (category 3,4 or 5 storm) will hit the U.S.

The Atlantic hurricane season begins June 1.

NOAA has predicted a below-normal hurricane season in the eastern Pacific this year. The eastern Pacific hurricane season runs from May 15 through November 30, with peak activity from July through September.

NOAA estimate a 60 to 70 percent chance of 11 to 16 named storms, including five to eight hurricanes and one to three major hurricanes.

An average eastern Pacific hurricane season produces 15 to 16 named storms, with nine becoming hurricanes and four to five becoming major hurricanes.

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