Joining at least six other research groups (or individuals) predicting a busy Atlantic hurricane season, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) announced it also expects more storms than average in 2011. During the 2011 season, which spans June 1 to November 30, NOAA is forecasting 12-18 tropical storms, 6-10 hurricanes and 3-6 major hurricanes with winds of 111 mph or greater.
|Colorado State University|
|Tropical Storm Risk Inc.|
|Joe Bastardi (Weather Bell)|
NOAA’s forecast is based, primarily, on three factors:
1) The active (mult-decadal) Atlantic hurricane era that began in 1995 continues
2) Ocean waters remain warmer than average
3) La Nina conditions - though expected to weaken - reduce the wind shear hostile to storms (often seen during El Nino years)
“In addition to multiple climate factors, seasonal climate models also indicate an above-normal season is likely, and even suggest we could see activity comparable to some of the active seasons since 1995,” said Gerry Bell, Ph.D., lead seasonal hurricane forecaster at NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center.
NOAA Administrator, Jane Lubchenco, noted ocean sea surface temperature are currently two degrees (F) above normal, but not as warm as last season’s (2010) waters which were 4 degrees above normal.
In 2010, there were 19 named storms and 12 hurricanes, the second most hurricanes on record. However, none of those hurricanes made landfall along the U.S. East or Gulf coast.
Lubchenco said the U.S. was “lucky” last year to avoid hurricane strikes. She said NOAA would not speculate on the prospects for landfall this season but stated we are “unlikely to see a repeat of last year.”
At a press conference at NOAA’s Satellite Operations Facility, both Lubchenco and FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate emphasized preparedness.
“Far too many people will not be prepared [for hurricanes],” Fugate said. “Of all the hazards we deal with, hurricanes should be least surprising.”
Fugate urged residents along East and Gulf Coast to have a plan for a hurricane strike and to visit the websites hurricane.gov and ready.gov during next week’s National Hurricane Preparedness week (May 22-28).
Hurricane Seasons Facts from the U.S. Census Bureau
163%: Percentage growth of the coastal population of the states stretching from North Carolina to Texas between 1960 and 2010.
36.8 million: 2010 Census population, as of April 1, 2010, most threatened by Atlantic hurricanes: the coastal portion of states stretching from North Carolina to Texas. Approximately 12 percent of the nation’s population live in these areas.
12: The number of hurricanes during the 2010 Atlantic hurricane season, five of which were major hurricanes at Category 3-strength or higher. None of these storms made landfall in the U.S., though Alex made landfall just south of Texas in Mexico and Earl brushed the East Coast.