Fierce hurricane season predicted

Fierce hurricane season predicted
# 28 May 2010 02:11 (UTC +04:00)
Baku-APA. Federal forecasters today called for an "active" to "extremely active" hurricane season this year, with anywhere from 14 to 23 named storms expected to form in the Atlantic Ocean, Caribbean Sea and Gulf of Mexico, APA reports quoting USA Today.
Of those named storms, 8 to 14 should become hurricanes, including 3 to 7 "major" hurricanes, with wind speeds above 111 mph.
Tropical storms are given a name when wind speeds reach 39 mph, and are upgraded to hurricane status when their sustained winds reach 74 mph. An average Atlantic hurricane season sees 11 named storms, including six hurricanes, with two becoming major hurricanes.
Forecasters do not predict the number of storms that will make landfall.
The forecast was announced Thursday morning by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration at a press conference at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C.
"If this outlook holds true, this season could be one of the more active on record," said NOAA chief Jane Lubchenco. "The greater likelihood of storms brings an increased risk of a landfall. In short, we urge everyone to be prepared."
Forecasters say that some of the factors that support this outlook include a weakening El Nino, record warm Atlantic Ocean water, and the fact that we’re in an era of high activity.
Wind shear, which can tear apart storms, will be weaker since El Nino is dissipating. Strong wind shear helped suppress storm development during the 2009 hurricane season.
Sea-surface temperatures are expected to remain above average where storms often develop and move across the Atlantic. Record warm temperatures – up to four degrees above average – are now present in this region, NOAA reports.
Also, since 1995, the Atlantic is in an era of increased hurricane activity, with consistently favorable ocean and atmospheric conditions for storm formation.
Thursday’s NOAA forecast is similar to earlier predictions by researchers at Colorado State University and the AccuWeather commercial weather service. The Colorado State team, led by William Gray and Phil Klotzbach, forecasts that 15 named storms will form in the Atlantic basin, with a 69% chance of a major hurricane striking land.
AccuWeather predicts that 16-18 named storms will form, with six expected to strike the USA.
The season officially runs June 1 through Nov. 30. However, most hurricanes tend to form from August through October, according to National Hurricane Center records. The first storm of this year in the Atlantic, Caribbean or Gulf of Mexico will be Alex, followed by Bonnie, Colin and Danielle.
NOAA forecasts for named tropical storms and hurricanes have been accurate in five out of the 10 years in this decade, according to a USA TODAY analysis. Their prediction was too low in four years, and too high in just one year: 2006. Eight of the ten years in the decade saw above-average activity for tropical storms and hurricanes.