Hurricane forecasters: Up to 10 hurricanes in Atlantic

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Forecasters with the U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami predict that up to ten hurricanes will form in the North Atlantic this hurricane season, and that up to six of them will be considered "major." The hurricane center also predicts that from 13 to 16 "named" storms this season (i.e. of tropical storm strength or greater, with winds in excess of 39 mph or 62 km/h.)

A major hurricane, as defined by the National Hurricane Center, is one that rates Category 3 or above on the Saffir-Simpson scale, with sustained winds of 111 mph (179 km/h) or more.

Conrad Lautenbacher, administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, says that warmer ocean temperatures and low wind shear make conditions favorable for hurricane development. Although it is too soon to predict how many storms will make landfall, Lautenbacher says that it is possible that two to four hurricanes could affect the United States.

According to NOAA, the Atlantic basin has been in an active period since 1995, with nine of the past eleven seasons with above average storm activity. Max Mayfield, directory of the National Hurricane Center, said, "the research is telling us we are in an active period that may last 20 years, and that's not good news. So the message is clear: We need to be prepared."

"It takes just one hurricane over your house to make for a bad year," said Mayfield.

Last year, 28 named storms developed into 15 hurricanes, of which seven were major. The hurricane center had predicted five major hurricanes out of nine total hurricanes that year. Five hurricanes (Dennis, Katrina, Rita, Stan, and Wilma) were so destructive that the World Meteorological Organization retired their names.

The North Atlantic hurricane season runs from June 1 to November 30.